2017.10 Hurricane Maria, Trip to Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, I felt pretty miserable. In the days after the storm passed, I wanted to travel down, but I hesitated. I worried that I would be more of a burden than help to my many friends there as they tried to put things back together. Eventually, I felt compelled to go and committed to do everything I could to be helpful. When I shared the idea with Trey, he suggested that we reach out to our networks to donate goods for me to take down. So, we did, and the response was incredible. And in less than 5 days, we raised more than $7,000 in goods and cash—what a testament to the ability of a small group of people to do good in the world if they just give a damn…

Ultimately, I traveled down to Puerto Rico for 3.5 days and worked with my contacts there to deliver goods to three neighborhoods that were in pretty significant need. Before and during the trip, we posted photos and brief written updates on TĀDV’s social media pages. We’ve reproduced them here, so you can follow the chronology of the effort.


More below on how you can help us #help #puertorico

Next Thursday, The Truest Adventure is going down to Puerto Rico to volunteer and document some of what’s going on. The plan is to also fill checked bags and carry-ons with as much of the following as possible:

1. D batteries
2. assorted diapers;
3. first aid kits; and
4. collapsible solar lanterns.

DM us if you want to donate money towards filling the duffels with these goods or give us any of these things to add to the duffel bags.
#donate #volunteer #dogood


$500 raised and counting…

So far, we’ve collected $500 and have commitments for more cash and goods to come before the trip down to Puerto Rico Thursday. Also we’ve focused our plan and we’ve updated the list of items we’ll buy.

We want the impact of the limited number of goods we can donate to be as effective as possible. Therefore, we plan to take all donated and purchased goods to one of the remote towns in the middle of the island, which is too far from where most volunteer efforts are currently focused right now. Currently, we’re researching the town of Utuando, but we haven’t chosen it as a final location. We still plan to fill 3 duffel bags with as many goods as we can to take down, but now we also plan to keep cash on hand to buy goods in San Juan to distribute in the remote, central part of the island.

Our contacts in Puerto Rico report that some of the items we were planning to buy and/or receive as donations here are readily available for purchase in San Juan, such as diapers and feminine hygeine products (but are still not available in remote areas). So, we will wait to buy those items along with water, which won’t travel well, in San Juan. Additionally, our PR contacts report that items we did not originally include on our list are in scarce supply even in San Juan. Therefore, we plan to focus our purchasing and donation requests on the following items: D batteries, mini flashlights, tarps, mosquito nets, water purification tablets, and collabsible lanterns. We have Amazon links for each of these items, so let us know if you would like to buy there and have it mailed to us before Thursday. Otherwise, we can send you information on how to get cash to us.

Thank you all for reading and sharing our posts, and donating money and goods toward the effort. We will keep posting updates on the trip and all that we learn once on the island.

📷: @afpphoto@ricardoarduengophotos
#helppuertorico #puertorico #help #donate


Look what you’ve done…

5 days ago, we had a simple idea: “Quest is traveling down to PR anyway let’s pay the fees for him to travel with checked bags and ask for help filling them with a few of the items folks need the most.” As of today, y’all have made cash donations, dropped off items, and bought things from the Amazon Wishlist, totaling $6,912 AND COUNTING! Thank you for all you’ve done. We’re going to get all the items to the places where they’re needed most in Puerto Rico. And, of course keep you posted on the journey as we work to do so.
#mytruestadventure #puertoricostrong#donate #dogood #give #fundraiser


Quest is en route to PR. Before he left, we bought and received the following items:

160 D batteries
14 tarps
48 mini flashlights
20 Mosquito sleeping nets
14 Solar Lanterns
120 water Purification Tabs
11 Life Straws
90 single dose pack Pain Meds
5 First Aid Kits (250PCS)

We expect the following items to arrive today and/or tomorrow, and we’ll figure out how to get them to PR later:

1 Solar Lantern
50 water Purification Tabs
1 Life Straw
150 packs Pain Meds
2 mosquito nets

We’ve confirmed a place to buy goods without the limitation of the ration policies in most stores. And, we’ve formed the initial outline of a plan to do a big delivery on Saturday and another small one on Sunday. More details to come…
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico

Patient Chaos…

What has settled upon me first is that the things that make life ordinary—driving from here to there and trips to the store—are not so ordinary at all. In some places, the police are directing traffic, so there is at least some flow. But, in other places, like the highway, there aren’t any officers, so it’s a mix of anything goes with most people letting common courtesy act as a default.

At Costco, the lines are long and the aisles are crowded, but everyone I interacted w/ smiled and chatted with each other patiently. And that was the second thing to settle upon me: the people of Puerto Rico are as kind and thoughtful as when I was last amongst them in February, just displaying a lot more resilience. -Q


Here’s a crash course in disaster relief efforts…

You can have all the cash in the world, but if you don’t have access to enough goods for sale, you can do nothing; or, you could have all the goods in the world, but if you don’t have a way to transport those goods where needed, you can do nothing. When I arrived with a little over $5,000 in cash, which I’m only posting about now because the cash has been spent 😁, we had a pretty big problem. The one item at the top of the list—water—is being rationed out 2 gallons per purchase at all stores. We solved this problem through connections. A friend of mine is good friends with the President of the Econo ( @superecono ) grocery store chain. After he heard that y’all sent The Truest Adventure down with goods and cash to help in whatever way we could, he agreed to sell us all that we want to buy from his companies central distribution center. So today, we bought the following:

3,176 gallons of water;
204 diapers;
40 packs of baby wipes;
120 boxes of maxi pads;
840-5 oz cans of canned chicken; and
130 packages of crackers.

We’ll distribute these goods and the others I brought down in two different towns tomorrow and Sunday. More details to come. -Quest
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico#superecono

“Every time you do a good deed, you shine the light a little farther into the dark”…

The world is quite a bit brighter for the good y’all have set in motion here. Tomorrow, we’re traveling to Comerio (pictured above) to deliver goods. We’ll take the lion’s share of what we bought @superecono because we’ll have access to military trucks that can handle the weight. Fortunately, we were able to tap into the combined state and government task force that is using the most recent intelligence to determine the locations that have the greatest need at the end of each day.

Comerio was in the direct path of the eye of the hurricane, as seen in the second and third photos above. As part of today’s intel package, a federal agency reported that it took goods to Comerio and the roads were clear, but they were not able to fulfill the all of needs of the town. Thanks to all of you, The Truest Adventure is in a position to help significantly with that effort. Y’all are doing good here. Thank you!

On Sunday, we’ll run another aid mission to a more remote part of the island, and take the remainder of the @superecono goods and the items I traveled down with on the plane. -Quest
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico
📷1: @abcnews

There is no “I” in “Team”…

Today we delivered:
2,352 gallons of water;
24 packages of diapers;
24 packages of baby wipes;
72 packages of maxi pads;
528 cans of chicken; and
936 packages of crackers

to Comerio. My post yesterday was purposefully vague about who we were working with down here, because I hadn’t received approval to publicize the agencies, primarily because they want the focus to be on those in need. But now, I’ve received approval and I think it’s important for folks to know that contrary to common perception, there are those in government who are dedicated and effective at their jobs. Today, we worked with the San Juan Field Office of the FBI, the U.S. Army National Guard, and FEMA to deliver an incredible amount of goods to an area in Comerio where aid had not been distributed before. When I arrived to Puerto Rico with an ambitious plan to deliver the list of goods above in one day to a town outside of the metro San Juan and then do another trip the following day, I received just one response: “what do you need to make it happen?” To my surprise the “truck” I requested easily turned into 4 Army Light Medium Tactical Vehicles (LMTVs), two of which were filled with the above goods purchased with The Truest Adventure team’s donations, while the other two were filled at FEMA’s central distribution warehouse (yes, FEMA is on their shit down here and have a warehouse full of goods they shipped down and purchased here. To be clear, that’s the end of their job. At that point local government is supposed to grasp the baton and handle distribution to its people, but more on the local governments’ failures later.) We rode out in a convoy of the 4 LMTVs, 6 FBI vehicles, and my rented Jeep. In total, 8 Army folks, more than 15 FBI Special Agents and employees, and 2 FEMA folks (who volunteered, bc again hand-to-hand distribution of aid is not their job) participated in today’s aid mission. It was an impressive coordinated effort to have three agencies and a Non-Governmental Organization (that’d be TĀDV) accomplish what we did today.

In Comerio, I saw the best of humanity and the worst of nature. I share a little of what I saw in the posts to follow.


“Gracia de Dios”…

As the Army soldiers were maneuvering the LMTV that we separated from the group to go higher into the mountains, this woman happened to be walking by and noticed that we were bringing water and other supplies. As I was watching her, she lightly collapsed into the fence and murmured, “Gracia de Dios” (thanks to God).

Anything other than concrete was destroyed…

The common theme throughout Comerío and what I’ve heard about other places is that concrete structures withstood Hurricane Maria’s up to 155 mph winds—everything else was decimated. This photos is all that remains of someone’s home. A teenager from the neighborhood we were in explained to me that the family lost everything.

There’s no end in sight…

Since Hurricane Maria hit the island there have been quite a few days of rain. So, this family, who obviously lost their entire roof, because it was not made of concrete like the walls of their house, was working feverishly to take advantage of the decent weather to remove ruined furniture, appliances, and family keepsakes from what’s left of their home. As an aside, they know it will be quite a while before they can anticipate getting electricity back, as the distribution pole for their house was snapped in two by Maria and lays in their yard.


Today, we’re headed to San Isabela, which is near Salinas, Puerto Rico. A point of contact from the area we’re going to reports that many people lists their roofs and are exposed to the elements. -Quest
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico
📷: @cbs


I spent every damn cent…

After all I’ve seen in the last 3 days, there was no way I could leave here with a single penny of the cash everyone donated. So, when I still had $515 cash on hand this morning, I called the President of Econo and begged him to let us add more to our order even though the Finance Office was closed and it was against policy for the Warehouse Operations Manager to accept cash payments. Consistent with the way things have gone here, he found a way. The CFO of the company drove over and took the payment and wrote out an invoice. We were able to add:

225 more gallons of water;
120 more cans of canned chicken; and
104 more packs of baby wipes

to the load we delivered today. Also, this morning, the Jeep I rented had mechanical issues, so we received a refund of one rental day. The remaining cash from donations once I returned to the San Juan metro area was $42.45. So, I walked to Walgreens and bought two jumbo packs of adult diapers ($46.81) to donate to the joint initiative to help the elderly being run by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Puerto Rico Dept. of Justice. With that…”se acabó!” Not a penny left… Today, we had a crew of more than 15 FBI agents, who volunteered their time to help us, as it was their designated day off. Also, FEMA again provided additional goods to supplement the items we purchased. And again, FEMA employees volunteered and distributed goods with us. As I posted yesterday, we planned to visit Santa Isabel, but we were delayed when we could not get in contact with our point of contact there. Undeterred, we drove to Villa Alba, distributed goods there, and then went to Santa Isabel later in the day.

More of what I saw in the posts to follow… -Quest
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico

“Water can flow or it can crash”…

When Hurricane Maria hit Villa Alba, the river there rose 12-15 feet and washed away the earth that was supporting the backyard patios and fences of many residents.

Photo 1 is of the river. In good weather, like they had today, it is beautiful. But…

Photo 2 shows the damage it did when it rose up and chewed away the support for one resident’s patio.
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico

“¿Puedes sacar foto de mi casa?”…

This is Alberto. In Photo 1, he’s sitting on the foundation he’s been building a little bit at a time (since the storm) with government assistance checks. Behind him is his home. Before Hurricane Maria, he did not have his home elevated or tied down like his neighbors, but planned to do it once he had the money. During Hurricane Maria, the wind gusts lifted his house in the air and dropped it 15 feet from where it used to be (currently where he’s building the foundation). As you can see in Photo 2, Alberto also lost his roof and is currently using tarps to keep as much rain out as possible.
#puertoricofuerte #mytruestadventure#travel #give #donate #dogood #puertorico#portrait

Submit a Comment