This has been the worst hurricane season in decades for the United States.  Chances are we all know someone who has been personally affected by these storms.  Hurricane Harvey deluged the Houston area and southwest Louisiana with record rainfall.  Irma decimated parts of Florida.

Yet, after all is said and done, Hurricane Maria may be the "single biggest hurricane catastrophe in the history of the U.S."  Those were the words of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello as he spoke from Camp Santiago, the National Guard base in the devastated town of Salinas.

The conditions in the U.S. territory are dire.  Only 4 percent of the island has electricity, and that is primarily in the area around hospitals.  Half of Puerto Rico has no drinking water.  Countless homes have been destroyed and even those left standing have lost all belongings, medicine, and food.  There is virtually no cell phone service.

Some might say, "Why should this matter to us? We have U.S. citizens to help."  That's precisely the point: most Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.  Anyone born in Puerto Rico is a U.S. citizen.  As a territory of the U.S., Puerto Rico pays some U.S. taxes and is under the protection of the U.S. court system.  Puerto Ricans can travel freely anywhere in the U.S. without a passport.  They vote in Presidential primaries.

But according to a poll published in the New York Times only 54% of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.  That is a major contributing factor as to why aid has been slow to come for the victims of Hurricane Maria.  The good news is, the State Of Louisiana is making a coordinated effort to change that.

According to a press release, the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is in the process of establishing collection sites in each parish to gather relief supplies for our Puerto Rican neighbors.  For the next two weeks, the Bossier City Fire Department's Central Station office will serve as Bossier Parish's collection point for donated relief items to help victims of Hurricane Maria.  If you'd like to be part of the relief effort, you can drop off specific items from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 620 Benton Road now through October 11th.

The items must be in unopened packages.  Here is a list of the articles that are most needed:

  • Diapers
  • Diaper cream
  • New baby bottles with nipples/bottles with liners
  • Infant formula (powder - no liquids please)
  • Baby wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products (tampons, pads, napkins, panty liners)

Members of the Louisiana National Guard will collect the donated goods for shipment to Puerto Rico.