It’s been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Fiona ripped through Puerto Rico on Sept. 17, dropping more than 30 inches of rain on the island and causing at least three deaths. Currently, hundreds of thousands of people are still without power or drinking water.
As of Wednesday (Sept. 28), around 345,000 customers in Puerto Rico were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.Us and published by The New York Times. That’s down from the millions who were without power in the week after Hurricane Fiona struck. The devastation comes just five years after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, leaving 80 percent of the island’s electrical system damaged for months.
Billboard is supporting disaster relief and recovery efforts from the hurricane in Puerto Rico by backing the American Red Cross with a donation using proceeds from Billboard Latin Music Week. Brand partners, artists and executives were invited to donate, with Billboard’s parent company, Penske Media Corporation, matching donations up to $50,000.
Billboard has also reached out to a number of music executives, artists and creatives, asking them to share their thoughts on how best to support Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona and where to donate. See below for their responses, as well as Romeo Santos‘ onstage donation during Latin Music Week and social media posts from stars including Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and more.
I was in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria happened. I was still hustling, I wasn’t big, I didn’t have any resources, I was just a citizen working towards my dreams. We went two months without electricity, water, it was tough. Thank God our community always sticks together and helps one another. One thing I thought during Hurricane Maria is that if I make it and have the resources to help my people, I will do it. I’m not gonna wait for the government to help the people because that never happens.
It was really bad in the south of Puerto Rico, it brought a lot of flooding. I saw so many flooded homes, a lot of people lost everything. 95% of the island still doesn’t have water or power. Me and my manager Eric Duars came together and made a quick plan. We bought 100 generators, awnings, and partnered with other organizations and created a big group and went the next day scouting houses and giving all the resources to the people. At the stores, everything goes so quick. We need to continue doing this work — in one week, things aren’t going to be [fixed]. This is a big [job] that takes months. Every day we’ll be scouting in the areas worst [hit] in Puerto Rico.
The King of Bachata will donate $100,000 for Puerto Rico hurricane relief, he announced during his Superstar Q&A at Billboard Latin Music Week after learning that Billboard had partnered with the Red Cross to raise funds for Puerto Rico. Santos, who was born in New York to a Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother, heard about Billboard‘s donation efforts while he waited to take the stage for his Superstar Q&A on Tuesday afternoon. Before taking the stage, he informed his team that he was in for $20,000. Then, within minutes, he told Billboard‘s Leila Cobo that he would up that sum to $100,000. “Puerto Rico has given me a lot more than $20,000,” Santos said onstage. “Let’s step it up. Let’s give $100,000!” he said to loud applause. The amount will include $30,000 pledged by his business partner, Artie Pabon. Watch his Superstar Q&A below.
Alfred Marroquin, music video director (J Balvin, Rauw Alejandro)
Hurricane Fiona has been completely catastrophic to Puerto Rico. It has left thousands of people on the island without housing, electricity, and drinking water. The organization GEM is inserting itself into the crisis and has extraordinary experience with challenging logistics on the island. After Hurricane Maria, they executed dozens of challenging missions, distributed millions in aid & brought 52 planes in & out of the island. I’ve donated to them and have seen what they’ve been able to do on the ground. It’s remarkable and it’s saving lives.
They accept donations, in-person drop-offs, and volunteers. Find more info here. Remember that any size donation can make a major difference. It all adds up.
Alex DePersia, artist manager, Laffitte Management Group
It is critical that people in the states remember that the people of Puerto Rico are fellow citizens of our nation…. It is on all of us to raise awareness for what is happening there and particularly for the music industry to use its voice. Loudly.
Throughout history, the Puerto Rican people have contributed in so many ways – from the arts and sports to service in the military. It is now time for the everyone else to stand up for them in this time of need. After being so compromised five years ago by Hurricane Maria, these crushing rains and winds coupled with the recent earthquakes has left our brothers and sisters hurting — especially as it concerns the need for drinking water, power and the crippling effect on their farms. Please continue to raise attention for their needs and donate what you can.
Cody Verdecias, vice president of A&R, Atlantic Records
What is happening in Puerto Rico is a travesty. A tragic time of the year we as people have unfortunately experienced for decades now. The resilience of the Puerto Rican people will once again overcome this tragedy. However, I feel It’s important to zero in and give aid to local grass roots organizations and people who are on the ground there helping. These are organizations that are feeding people and getting them roofs. The main thing is water which is hard to get, and a lot of people still don’t have water. In moments like these it’s important that aid directly provided to locals in the community will have a stronger impact than aid superficially disseminated through institutions.