On Monday, Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy joined with local Latino community leaders and a representative of the Dominican Consulate in announcing local effort for the victims of Hurricane Noel at the Puertorriquenos Asociados for Community Organization (PACO) Community Center on Manila Avenue (Grove Street).
Hurricane Noel was the fourteenth storm of the 2007 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season that between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2 unleashed winds up to 80 mph and severe rainfall affecting affected Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, South Florida, Bahamas, eastern New England, Atlantic Canada.
It is estimated that approximately 150 people so far have perished as a result of Noel with damage estimated initially at a cost $40 million.
The island of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic and Haiti are located, suffered 5 days of rainfall that led to 84 fatalities in the country, left over 60,000 people homeless and damaged over 14,000 homes in the Dominican Republic alone. In Haiti, so far a total of about 400 houses were destroyed and least 57 deaths were reported dead as the result of the storm.
At Monday's announcement, Hudson County Freeholder and head of PACO Eliu Rivera outlined a number of activities that will be taking place as part of the relief effort as PACO and other local community will be working directly with the Hudson County Chapter of the American Red Cross, in what he referred to as a "preliminary plan of action".
"I think it is fitting that we collectively do something to help our brothers and sisters down there," Rivera said.Helping out after the storm
Rivera said the most important aspect of the relief effort is that people give money to the Red Cross through a fund that they have set up to help those victims of Hurricane Noel.
To get the money part started, Rivera, Mayor Healy, and City Council President Mariano Vega each put up $500 donations to go toward the Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. The donations will be forwarded to the International Response Fund set up by the International Red Cross, who will apply it to their rescue and relief efforts known as AP 2024 Caribbean Response Operations.
There were also calls for donations of water, canned goods and other items to be left at various locations across the city. And Rivera said he will be working with former City Councilman E. Junior Maldonado to hold an all-day benefit concert for Hurricane Noel victims at an unconfirmed location in Jersey City. He also is meeting with various corporations to contribute to the relief effort.
Local resident Justo DeJesus, who is married to a Dominican woman with relatives in the Dominican Republic, along with city employee Otilio Velasquez started to organize various officials to get this relief effort off the ground. He shared information he received from people in the Dominican Republic of the difficulties of rescue efforts.
"Within the difficult circumstances of the Dominican Republic, bridges destroyed and cities devastated," DeJesus said. "The government with the officials and the workers haven't been able to go to places and really find out what is the toll they are paying with this hurricane."
Tito Baez, vice consul in the Dominican Consulate based in New York City, said with Vega acting as translator that "long-term relief efforts" are in order for his country with the items most in need as clothing and medicine. He also said a pressing issue is securing the commitment of shipping containers to bring items of need to the country. Rivera said he is currently in talks with one of the largest Hispanic shipping companies in the United States with connections to the Caribbean.
After the announcement, Baez said the relief efforts of the community in Jersey City and in the tri-state area made him "very proud" to live within this area amongst people who are "there to help".
One of those who will be helping is Margie Ledesma, a resident of the city's Heights section with Dominican roots but none of her loved ones were impacted by Noel.
"Anytime you see it [on TV] you cry, and you want to reach out and help." For more information on the Jersey City relief effort, call PACO at (201) 963-8282.
Also, donations of water, batteries, flash lights, canned foods, clothing and milk can be brought to Vavi's Auto Shop at 590 Grand St. in Jersey City.
They can also call the Red Cross of Northern New Jersey at (800) 507-6058 or check out www.redcross.org Comments on this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org