Puerto Rico, Rockaway is Here For You

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Last week, Hurricane Maria hurled its power and devastated many islands in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico. Now Rockaway’s Superstorm Sandy survivors and fellow Boricua lovers are stepping up in a big way to help the island that some locals call “hogar lejos del hogar,” (translated as “home away from home”).

Adi Carter, a former Rockaway Beach resident and founder of Rincón’s yoga retreat, Redefining Balance, who permanently made Rincón, Puerto Rico her home, launched the Facebook page, “Rincón & Aguadilla Relief Fund and Check In” so folks on the mainland and Puerto Rico could communicate with each other about their safety and what they need so that others could donate towards relief efforts.

If you go on the Facebook page, you will see locals and folks across the country desperately trying to find out if their loved ones are okay. One post reads, “Please help if you can. My husband and I are looking for his dad. He lives in Rincón, and we haven’t heard from him since Maria hit. Please, if anyone knows and could verify he is okay, have him call from someone’s phone. We would greatly appreciate it.”

Carter said, “I set up this FB page just for this purpose. We are all desperate to know if our loved ones, friends — all locals are safe. This was the only avenue I could think of. With the power grid down, limited cell phone service, we all just want to know our friends are alive and kicking. As a Rockaway Beach resident, Sandy prepared me for Maria. I learned a lot about the power of community, and what together we can do to rebuild in a bigger and more resilient way. Because of my experience in Rockaway, as a surfer, I fell in love and immediately connected with Rincón, Aguada, Aguadilla, Isabela and other surrounding areas on PR’s northwest corner coast.

“Forget the shock value with the photos and videos we see in the news. Forget blaming the government. Any negative propaganda is not going to help. What PR needs is for folks to step up and show what community can and will do, like Rockaway did with Hurricane Sandy. Who knows the possibilities of how Maria can actually make PR more resilient and launch the road to another renaissance, similar to Rockaway? The power grid desperately needs to be revamped, the water supply and the overall sustainability of the island needs to be carefully re-thought and rebuilt. Rockaway is such a beautiful example of when folks really unite, a powerful resurgence is possible and will happen. That is my hope for my fellow Rincónians,” Carter said.

If you want to donate towards Carter’s PR Hurricane relief efforts, you can donate directly to her PayPal account with her yoga company Redefining Balance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here in Rockaway, many locals and PR lovers are being proactive in Hurricane Maria disaster relief efforts including Sarah and Chris Romulo of CROM Physical Culture and Guy Nevirs (aka The Professor) of local popular band, Big Squid.

The Romulos collected three truckloads of donations by locals. One of CROM’s members is an employee of JetBlue and according to Sarah and Chris, said that he would personally take the donated items down to PR. Sarah Romulo, even personally went shopping at big warehouse club, BJ’s, to buy more items for relief efforts.

“As a parent and a neighbor, who survived and is still enduring everything after Sandy, it was in our hearts and souls to do this. All I want is to alert people, who are anxious to help, ‘Be careful what you donate. Be proactive, but patient, and realize that PR needs basic necessities like water and batteries. The entire island has no electricity. We can all remember how a warm bath became such a luxury for us in Rockaway after Sandy. Let’s please, just band together and help PR, like many people nationwide paid it forward to us,” Romulo said.

CROM is continuing to collect donations towards PR’s Hurricane Maria’s disaster relief. They are donating items to the Puerto Rican Family Institute. For more information, contact CROM at 718-945-1700.

Guy Nevirs of Squid is also stepping up. Local band Big Squid will join forces with Puerto Rican trovador, Fernandito Ferrer this Friday, September 29, from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Beach 106th concession to play music and raise funds for disaster relief in Puerto Rico. This past weekend at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club, Squid collected over $500 of which they donated 100 percent of proceeds towards PR.

Rockaway Beach homeowner and PR native, Walter Meyer, is spearheading an effort to bring solar power to PR as most of the island is without electricity. "We have a tax deductible fund matching commitment of $50k from architect Jonathan Marvel. We are shipping in containers of solar equipment below wholesale cost, and building on site at community hubs throughout the country with volunteer technicians. However, we need to match the donation this coming week to activate the $50k wire transfer. If you know any corporations, individuals or organizations that could use a tax relief, and believe solar is the future for PR, the 501c3 fiscal sponsor will write a donation letter for the accountant. Solar libre!” Meyer said. To donate, visit: http://solparatodos.org/donate

Other locals who have a piece of their hearts in PR advise people to not try head to there anytime soon.

Brandon d’Leo of the Rockaway Beach Surf Club said, “Right now, everyone wants to go down and help. However, this is a serious humanitarian crisis. What we went through in Rockaway with Sandy was brutal, but we could still cross the bridge and get electricity, food, gas, water. What’s going in PR is completely different. There is no bridge where you can cross for any normalcy. I’m just thinking of my neighbors in Aguadilla. The elderly and children. How are they surviving? If you can’t truly rough it, don’t go. Don’t take from the resources that locals desperately need. Just do what you can from the mainland. Otherwise, I’ll see you there.”

Alex Karinsky, president of the Rockaway Surfers Association and Conrad Karl, proprietor of Uma’s in Rockaway Beach and Uma’s Playa Jobos in Islabella, PR agreed. “Don’t go, if you can’t help. The area is in dire need of assistance and collaborative help, but don’t go and take away from the resources meagerly available right now,” Karinsky said. Karl said, “PR just needs our resources and willingness to help.” Karl has heard that Uma’s Playa Jobos is still standing, but has sustained damage to the outside areas of the restaurant. “As fellow Rockaway surfers and residents with homes in Rincón, Aguada , Isabe­la and Aguadilla, PR is certainly ‘hogar lejos del hogar,’” Karl said.

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