CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said ViequesLove raised $900,000 for Vieques, when the number is currently less than that, and called Puerto Rico a country when it is a U.S. territory. The story has been updated to reflect these changes. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the errors.
Following the landfall of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, a group of past and current residents of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques raised over $870,000 for relief efforts for Vieques, while most media attention and government relief efforts were focused on the mainland of the territory.
Heather Knorr, a teaching assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Romance Studies, said her friend in Vieques, Kelly Thompson, originally created the organization ViequesLove to help with the rebuilding of Vieques, but she quickly had to switch gears when government relief was sparse.
“There was no way to help patients who were on Dialysis, there was no way to help cancer patients, there was no way to get insulin," Knorr said. "So we immediately started responding to the medical needs of the island, rather than this long-term vision of sustainable rebuilding. We sort of kept up with this short-term emergency relief action.”
Amy Gordon, a freelance journalist, was able to get out of Vieques thanks to ViequesLove. She said she had major concerns when she was stranded in Vieques for the first six days following the hurricane.