Six months after Puerto Rico sustained unprecedented damage from Hurricane Maria, the SIU remains active in assisting with recovery efforts.
One such endeavor is Operation Agua – a project led by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). As reported in detail in prior issues of the LOG, Operation Agua’s goal is to purchase and distribute 100,000 individual water filtration systems for classrooms and households, plus 50 large-capacity clean-water devices for a network of non-profit organizations, union offices, schools and other community groups.
SIU Port Agent Amancio Crespo and numerous rank-and-file volunteers have helped distribute the individual filter systems. As of early February, around 50,000 units had been passed out to schools, homes and others. Fundraising had reached approximately $1.7 million and is ongoing. (Visit operationagua.com for additional information and a chance to contribute.)
“Our members have really stepped up to help their fellow citizens,” Crespo stated. “We’ve been all over the territory and we’re not slowing down. We’re also taking this opportunity to explain to people that the filters – and most of the other relief cargoes – are being sent on Jones Act ships. The Jones Act benefits Puerto Rico, and we’re helping spread the word.”
Joining the AFT in Operation Agua are the SIU, Seafarers-contracted Tote Maritime, AFSCME, Operation Blessing International, and the Hispanic Federation. (The AFT’s affiliate in Puerto Rico represents 40,000 active and retired educators.)
“We are proud to stand with all of them,” Crespo added. “There is still a great need for stable, reliable sources of safe water, and Operation Agua is addressing that need.”
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