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October 03, 2017

AFL-CIO members in New Jersey mobilize to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

Members of the AFL-CIO’s affiliated unions – including construction, transportation and healthcare – in New Jersey have mobilized to provide support to families in Puerto Rico struggling to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

The labor organization is also working to deliver 350 pillows and blankets for volunteers donated by Cooper Board Chairman George E. Norcross III on behalf of Cooper University Hospital. The delivery will coincide with the scheduled departure of hundreds of union volunteers from Newark Airport on October 4 on a plane chartered by the national AFL-CIO organization.

Last week, Cooper University Health Care offered to send medical personnel and supplies to Puerto Rico, where recovery efforts are ongoing nearly two weeks after the hurricane hit the U.S. territory.

Cooper was working with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to send much-needed supplies as well as a team of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals. 

Norcross and his family offered to cover the estimated $100,000 cost to transport the supplies and medical support team to the Caribbean island.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on September 20, bringing sustained winds of up to 155 mph and dumping more than 40 inches of rain in some parts. The commonwealth's electricity and telecom infrastructures were destroyed, and power is still out on most of the island 

The death toll officially stands at 16 people but is likely higher already than that and expected to rise, possibly into the hundreds. 

Gov. Ricardo Rossello has urged Congress to approve an aid package, saying the island faces a humanitarian crisis.

The Cooper Foundation also is running a fundraising campaign to assist the Caribbean island. Anyone who would like to contribute can donate to the Puerto Rico fund on the foundation's website

The donations will be sent directly to Puerto Rico and distributed to the United for Puerto Rico Foundation and the Salvation Army in Puerto Rico.

Full disclosure: PhillyVoice Founder and CEO Lexie Norcross serves on the Cooper Foundation board of trustees. She is president of the Norcross Foundation, and her father, George E. Norcross III, is the chairman of the board of trustees of Cooper University Hospital.