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Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR)

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Marks End of Convergence Center

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, February 4, 2018

This following report from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief marks the closing of their autonomous space in Florida. To hear more about the community center and free clinic that they organized in the wake of hurricane Irma, check out our podcast interview with them here.

Last week marked the end of our Tampa Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Post-Irma Convergence Center, the space was generously offered to us by St. Paul Lutheran Church. This space was artful, accessible, warm and creative. Like larger social experiments where collectives have free reign to create, projects zipped in and out, ideas flourished and plans were encouraged to fruition.

From prisoner letter writing nights, to documentary screenings, to food prep, to the hundreds of care packages sent out from on site, to reportbacks, to workshops, to skillshares, to group meetings, to open mics, to radical caroling practice, and of course, the launching of relief teams doing disaster mutual aid to Puerto Rico, Immokalee, the Keys, Apopka, Jacksonville, and even refugee solidarity work in Belgium and France. We used those four walls to break down other walls and it worked. The space was opened for houseless friends to shower, do laundry and even for a houseless couple to have a romantic anniversary dinner.

We shared the space with Tampa Food Not Bombs, Love Has No Borders, Tampa Bay DSA, Restorative Justice Coalition, Black Lives Matter Tampa, Tampa Anarchist Black Cross and other liberatory movements. The space held a free clinic, a free library, a children’s playroom, a community kitchen, and an open space for people to share art and literature. The walls held revolutionary Zapatista quotes, portrait-stories, other messages of support and solidarity, and photos in memory of Andrew Joseph III, Meg Perry and Alonso Guillen – people we have lost along the way. The clinic treated emotional and physical trauma, provided acupuncture, reiki, massage, herbal teas and tinctures, diabetes care, treated dehydration and launched many, many mobile clinics.

Hakim Bey, the originator of the term temporary autonomous zone says they are “like an uprising which does not engage directly with the state, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself, to re-form elsewhere/else when, before the state can crush it.” The goal of these zones is not permanence or confrontation, and its lapse is not defeat, but a seed planted that will be carried to another time and place to be recreated again.

The aim is to spread these autonomous zones far and wide, so that everywhere and every-when, not just in disasters, people share goods and services freely, connect deeply and authentically with one another, have agency, self-determination and meaning in their chosen work, live in the moment, and are free to imagine with minds, but also with hands and feet, the better world we know is possible. These moments, when our bodies are sung electric by the possibilities taking wing inside and all around us, need not be fleeting. Most of human history has been spent in communities whose foundation was mutual aid, and our future can be likewise if we have the strength and courage to follow our vision through to where it leads.

Another example of temporary autonomous zones are the 12 Centros de Apoyo Mutuo (CAMs) located throughout Puerto Rico. These constitute an intricate web of people-powered, locally rooted recovery efforts that are proving revolutionary self-governance is not a utopian dream, but can actually be a natural response to the absence of authoritarian, statist means of control. We are currently raising funds to get the CAM in Caguas its own micro-grid solar photovoltaic system – an autonomous alternative to the bankrupt and perhaps, soon to be privatized, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. You can donate to this project here.

Some of us are still in Puerto Rico assisting with projects whenever and wherever we are needed and plan to continue doing so for the forseeable future. Some of us are busy preparing for a multi-state tour. And look forward to seeing many of you in person over the coming weeks and months and strategizing on how to build the movement for mutual aid together. To check out locations, visit our website. If we aren’t making it to your town yet, we apologize and thank you in advance for your patience. We have had far too many requests to meet them all at once, but we will continue booking spots for the Fall.

Dandelions lose their minds in the wind, and spread their seeds in a thousand directions. We are a result of one of those seeds. And we know that every end is a beginning. Wherever you go, may you carry a piece of a liberated zone with you. Wherever you stand, may you be the heart and soul of that place.

Until next time.

Building the Movement for Mutual Aid: Spring Tour 2018

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, January 18, 2018

The following statement comes from Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and announces their spring tour in 2018 across parts of the US. 

Friends,

I am so excited and grateful for this opportunity to organize our first “Building the Movement for Mutual Aid” Training Tour!  This is a critical moment for developing a skilled and empowered standing network of organizers and volunteers who can help communities respond to climate chaos as well as “unnatural disasters” brought about by exploitation, violence, and extreme resource extraction.

We are still confirming dates on this far-ranging Spring Tour, but we can tell you now that we will be on the road March-May in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

In each of the 30 locations on our route, we will explain how natural storms turn into unnatural disasters through dangerous new forms of disaster capitalism and how everyday people are using principles of “Solidarity, Not Charity” to engage in d.i.y. disaster recovery.  A two-day workshop will include both an easy introduction accessible to the general public, and a deeper participatory training for those who are ready to get involved.

Check out the schedule!  It just went live, moments ago, on our shiny new website!  If you have not seen it yet, please check out the front page and read some of the many excellent articles written by members who are bringing direct action humanitarian aid to communities in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

This tour is the first step in a strategic capacity-building training campaign. Due to an outpouring of requests (over 100 so far!), plans are developing for a Fall 2018 Tour in the West, additional regional tours in 2019-2020, and a variety of follow-up trainings that will strategically and progressively build necessary skills and shared knowledge in local groups that are a part of the rapidly-growing MADRelief network. If you would like to invite us to your community, please place a request.

MADRelief envisions a new, participatory and empowering form of humanitarian aid that can become a big tent under which many diverse movements can find common ground and shared experience.  One that can overcome natural and unnatural disasters – from hurricanes to hate rallies, from mudslides to mine waste spills – and transform tragedies into opportunities for collective liberation.  One that we build in collaboration with all of you.  This tour seeks to strengthen our network, diversify our base, and increase our skills and knowledge, together. Please join us!

 

 

Dreaming With Our Hands: On Autonomy, In(ter)dependence, and the Regaining of the Commons

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, January 9, 2018

“It was like an atomic bomb went off” a local Boricua, as people born in Puerto Rico are often called, is saying about the view of the mountains the day after Maria passed. “Every branch, and every tree, was torn apart and broken, and scattered everywhere. Every green area was gray and brown.” The view now, almost three months after las tormentas, is eerie. The greenery is back, but the forests are very bare compared to how they were. Things can appear to be normal, except for the 60 foot telephone pole hanging over the edge of a cliff here, or leaned over at 45 degree angles onto a building there. As long as they still carry power to their destinations they’re left alone, even doubled over, to triage the other downed poles that are actually causing disruptions in the grid. These remnants of devastation can be seen everywhere, and everywhere there are people getting by and adapting to the changes Irma and Maria left behind with whatever limited tools are at their disposal.

I, a Brooklyn born Puerto Rican, arrive in Puerto Rico, or as the native Taíno people call it, Boriké, and meet up with a small team of two traveling partners. Our visits to Caguas on my first week were breathtaking, getting to know people, and watching the amazing projects that communities here are putting together. The town itself is very old, largely abandoned and magnificently beautiful. The streets in the pueblo are narrow and the buildings made of cement, painted bright pastel colors, with old Spanish architectures. Everywhere lay murals with sayings of hope, independence and resistance. In our short visits, we were able to glimpse how people here have begun rebuilding their lives, coming together to reimagine the kind of world they want to create.

Since before the hurricanes, the downtown neighborhoods were losing their small shops and local markets to the incurring large chain stores that sprouted up less than a mile away. Still, one immediately gets the sense that this town is full of cultural life and spirit much different from that felt in wealthier neighborhoods, like the gated community in Guaynabo we stayed in. In traveling to different parts of the island, we can see houses on the coast of Aguadilla that were cut in half by mini landslides, and traffic lights and highway signs stashed beside the roads with the piles of detritus and branches.

We’re on the northwestern part of the main highway that encircles the island now, and traffic comes to a halt for a half hour. It was raining for only 20 minutes, but it left a 4 foot deep puddle along a large stretch of the often overcrowded road. As we finally reach the end of the bottleneck, we see the flooding is being manually fixed by a single worker in swamp boots unclogging the drainage holes with a broomstick. I get the sense this is an example of how the municipalities in Puerto Rico aren’t equipped to properly handle the crisis.

In speaking with people, it comes as no surprise to them either that the government isn’t doing much to resolve the problems here. As many non-Boricuas are only now discovering, the island’s government has been suffocated with public debts, issued and purchased by predatory Wall Street hedge funds. Aligning with what has now become a global custom with these kinds of debts, Puerto Rico’s creditors are forcing the island’s government to enact austerity measures on the population, with help from the US and its Fiscal Oversight and Management Board. This Board is an unelected entity established by the US Congress to decide how Puerto Rico spends the tax revenue collected from its people.

“They don’t serve the interests of Puerto Ricans,” Maritza, a local community organizer says, “They serve the interests of Wall Street.” She explains how the Board members assign themselves their own salaries. “The chair of the Board decided to make $625k this year, and overall the Board costs $300 million to operate, paid for by Puerto Rican tax dollars.” It’s their job to make sure Wall Street hedge funds can keep getting payments from Puerto Rico’s unquenchable debt, and in the process, ensure that Puerto Rico never has a prosperous and self-sufficient economy. By gutting funding for healthcare, education, food assistance, public sector jobs and critical infrastructure development, this policy instead ensures a continually collapsing economy. Maritza describes the Board as wanting “to keep us like a banana republic, a place with only low-wage jobs for corporations to profit off of,” and I believe her. FEMA and the Puerto Rican government failed in meeting people’s basic needs after the storms, but in their absence, I’m told old and new community organizations took the lead and saved many lives.

2017 Reflection: Unafraid of Ruins

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, December 27, 2017

2017 has been a busy year for us. We saw unprecedented disasters, both climate related and political. The storms are increasing in intensity and frequency, but so is our diverse movement’s power from below, our capacity to bend reality to will and to present viable alternatives. In the face of growing fascist threats, we know a simple return to the politics of economic austerity, endless war, and the slow breakdown of authentic social relationships is not enough to stem the tide against authoritarianism. What we need is a radical restructuring of our social ties, based on mutual aid and our shared vision of the future.

In addition to meeting people’s immediate needs for survival post-disasters, this is what we are building. Every hurricane, every fire, every earthquake, mudslide, flood, and every other disaster, is a space of profound suffering, but in these ruins, there is an opportunity to rebuild a better world in the shadow of the old.

In the words of the revolutionary Buenaventura Durruti: “We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth; there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts.”

If we are to survive the coming storms, it will be through mutual aid, through manifesting into reality this new world we carry in our hearts.

In 2017, we created a clearinghouse of resources available for free at MutualAidDisasterRelief.org for people engaged in people-powered relief efforts to safely clean up flooded homes, provide psychological first aid, and engage in every aspect of relief and recovery safely and sustainably. We activated thousands of new volunteers who became involved in debris clean up, prisoner advocacy, mobile kitchens, providing medical assistance, building autonomous/sustainable energy and water systems, and distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, water, and other supplies, as well as countless other acts of solidarity.

As we write this, many of our volunteers are in Puerto Rico assisting the centros de apoyo mutuo that operate as beacons of sustainability and communal solidarity. Many more volunteers will continue to trickle in over the coming weeks as they have over the last couple months. The people of Puerto Rico knew as we know too, if we wait on the state or the large institutions to save us, we would not survive. There comes a time when compassion, mutual aid, solidarity, and taking initiative are not luxuries but necessities of survival. In the words of a friend at Centro de Apoyo Mutuo in Mariana, “This is it. Or there is no future.”

We look ahead to 2018 and building the movement for mutual aid through a speaking and training tour, spreading the diy disaster relief ethic, and carving out a future through mutual aid, solidarity, and direct action.

As a new year approaches, we look forward to continuing to build and support civil society alternatives, prefigurative movements for humanity, for survival, and against neoliberalism, fascism, and climate chaos.

Thank you for walking this path with us.

Stay Warm this Winter! Come to Houston and Volunteer with Autonomous Disaster Relief!

By an anonymous contributor - It's Going Down, December 5, 2017

We need…

anti-oppressive people skilled in construction, childcare, squatting, media, cooking, growing food, fundraising, medics, healers, birthworkers, herbalists, artists, musicians, and Spanish speakers.

Houston is the 4th largest city in the US and the heart of the oil industry in terms of both corporate headquarters and industrial infrastructure, but most of the city’s people have always been considered expendable by those powers.

In the days immediately after the storm, disaster communism naturally took hold as neighbors took it upon themselves to organize boat rescues in the absence of any help from the state. For a few weeks, its influence extended beyond the hardest hit neighborhoods and we found ourselves as a small part of a large mobilization. Neighbors helping each other were the biggest force, church groups and liberals were out in large numbers, and even the local fascists were playing at relief work (in their own neighborhoods). Many businesses shared resources, including restaurant kitchens which were used to mass-produce free meals for distribution.

Fourteen weeks after Harvey, those free meals are a distant memory. Thousands of people are newly homeless, or living in unsafe conditions, or crowded in with family – and it’s starting to get cold here at night.

This is a critical time for anarchists to intervene against the return to normalcy – we do not want to rebuild the old Houston of hyper-individualism and slow death under capitalism. We want to take space opened by the storm and build new ways of supporting each other and relating to each other.

If you can help with that, and you don’t mind camping (with bathrooms/showers, kitchen etc) in a communal setting, get in touch with us at htxautonomy@protonmail.com

This is Caguas: “Centro de Apoyo Mutuo”

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, November 26, 2017

The rest is Puerto Rico.

Centro de Apoyo Mutuo, Centers for Mutual Aid, exist as raised fists across the island landscape of post hurricane Irma, post hurricane Maria Puerto Rico.

In the narrow, colorful streets of Caguas, a building seized and defended by community is being painted by Centro organizers and a Mutual Aid Disaster Relief medical and systems crew from the main land.

Outside, a tuff tank 400 gallon buffalo awaits the systems teams’ erection of the high volume modular water filtration system and pump which will fill it with potable water for the community, creating a resource on lands reclaimed by autonomous Apoyo Mutuo community members.

By 2pm it is pumping heavily, spilling treated water from the mouth of a hose until long after sunset.

Apoyo Mutuo seized the space a month and a half ago. A month ago they defended it from policia who demanded to know their individual names.

“We just kept responding that our name is Centro de Apoyo Mutuo.”

At 8, a crowd fills the parking lot sharing donuts cut in halves with the opening scenes of a documentary on a history of direct action occupations in Puerto Rico playing on the concrete wall of the lot in front of the building.

Community members spend the following two hours taking turns at the pump and watching the buffalo fill. An Apoyo Mutuo comrade laid out their mission for us at the community kitchen where solidarity work and mutual aid feeds 300 people every day.
“We are changing the way we relate to each other. Thats what we want. To change the behaviors we have learned through capitalism.”

We parted with the crew of community members from Centro de Apoyo Mutuo late in the night after helping paint the new community kitchen space, building a compost toilet and pumping hundreds of gallons of potable drinking water into a common tank.

This is the work of actualization.

This is the dream of a new Puerto Rico being manifested by autonomous direct action.

Dispatches from Puerto Rico: Front Line Relief

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, November 10, 2017

Our current Mutual Aid Disaster Relief team in Puerto Rico has concentrated efforts mostly on HIV/AIDS prevention, safe water outreach/education, breastfeeding in disasters and also is addressing other health needs with our team of nurses, a lab chemist, lactation counselors and a medic.

We provided health education materials, triage, screening, and assisted 100 patients one of the first days we were here, based out of a little church 1/2 way up a mountain in a little community called Quebrada Prieta. This community lacks potable water: one woman was using the water from her pool to wash and clean, most are drinking from the river that drains from the rain forest. We were able to provide lab testing, exams, and assist a home bound, double amputee diabetic patient with a host of diabetes supplies.

Another day we were in Vega Baja, close to the ocean. We saw 89 patients in a pop-up clinic inside of a restaurant called El Right Field de Tommy. Since the storm, this restaurant has been providing free rice and beans every Tuesday to residents of this severely affected neighborhood. Yet another example of mutual aid in practice. Many of the folks seen had just got water back in their homes, but were unsure if it was safe to drink and some only had a steady drip coming out of the tap, insufficient for a day’s water needs. And yet others noted that some days the water worked and other days nothing came out of the taps. So we discussed ways to make water potable, such as boiling for 2 minutes if they have a gas stove or using a bleach + water recipe to make it safer to drink.

With so many people saving rainwater, we also talked about ways to safely store it and how to prevent mosquitoes. Very few in this community had generators. However we did do a home visit with a bedridden, oxygen dependent patient in which the generator was running outside of her bedroom windows. When we walked in we could smell it in her bedroom. We talked about the impact of carbon monoxide on her lungs and helped her husband move the generator to a safer spot, further away from his wife’s windows. We also got to do some more breastfeeding education as there were a lot of moms with babies and toddlers. Many of the moms were happily breastfeeding their babies. We were able to answer their questions and provide support and encouragement that they were doing the right thing.

Still another day, we saw 54 patients at a community Center in Los Naranjos, a community that saw flooding up to peoples necks during the storm. Most lost a lot, some lost everything, most have no potable water, none have electricity. All are helping each other: one woman had 70 people on her roof during the floods. The last 6 patients of the day were home bound. All of them are strong men women and kids. The oldest was 102 years old, the youngest was still in her moms belly!

There is a much wider context, including socioeconomic status and availability of resources that factor into health and food access. First, Puerto Rico had above 40% poverty before the storm; Unemployment was above 12%. Staying healthy and eating healthy costs more money, in the form of direct costs (for example: $4 for milk) and indirect costs (taking the day off work to care for a sick family member).

Second, going to the doctor or store implies that you have a car, which implies you are driving, which implies that your car didn’t flood or get blown to pieces in the storm. Then we must assume that you bought gas, which implies that you may have stood in line for 0 minutes to 2 hours (depending on the city, it’s short in the metro area), and all of this implies that you have money, which brings me to…

Returning to your job. Many people’s jobs are too damaged to even exist anymore or they cannot work the way they once did. For example, yesterday we saw a school that was destroyed, covered in mud, windows shattered to pieces, metal cables sticking out of cracked cement, no running water, bathroom walls crumbled. These children are not in school anymore. If their parents both used to work, someone now needs to stay home or adjust their schedule to take care of the kids during the work day or they can find someone else to care for their kids, which costs money. Their days are spent collecting water for washing and cleaning from the river; arriving early at the store or the water truck to stand in line for water that’s sold out within 20 minutes; cleaning up mud from every surface of their home; caring for sick or injured family and friends and neighbors; looking for accessible/cheap food; removing every piece of furniture that was submerged in water including the children’s mattresses which are now on the curb growing mold…. and the list goes on and on and on and on.

It’s not always possible to just go to the doctor. Sometimes the doctor is the one living the scenarios described above. Sometimes the traditional organizations tasked with assistance don’t have the people-power to maintain their services. Sometimes the closest store is miles away and the land you were living off is now a bare pile of sticks.

Earth Watch: Activist Dezeray Lyn on Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

By staff - Global Justice Ecology Project, November 10, 2017

This week’s Earth Watch guest on the Sojourner Truth Radio Show is Dezeray Lyn. Lyn has been involved in organizing and solidarity work rooted in intersectional struggle for social/climate/economic justice for 16 years.  She spent five months in occupied Palestine documenting and intervening in human rights abuse of Palestinians between 2015 and 2016. 

Lyn co-founded the radical, autonomous Refugee solidarity group Love Has No Borders and have been an active, long time Food Not Bombs Tampa member. She has done autonomous relief work in New Orleans, St Augustine, West Virginia and Puerto Rico as well as across Florida post hurricane Irma. Lyn is preparing to go on tour with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief for 3 months to grow the movement in 40 plus workshops. 

Among the topics discussed are relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the lack of resources available to effected people. Lyn’s interview begins at about the 37 minute mark below.

Growing the Movement for Mutual Aid: Invite Trainers & Prepare Your Community for Grassroots Direct Action Disaster Response

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, October 19, 2017

Climate Chaos is happening.  Adaptation and preparation are essential.  Grassroots disaster response will be more and more necessary as we see more catastrophes – infrastructure, economic, and ecological collapses – and as corporations and governments seek only to capitalize on the crises.

That is why we created Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR) – an organization inspired by Common Ground, Occupy Sandy, the Standing Rock Water Protectors, and the long history of diverse grassroots direct actions seeking to make a better world possible.  We are developing and training a standing network of community organizers and volunteer disaster responders, continually growing in size and efficacy, which will be at-the-ready to respond to natural and unnatural disasters – from hurricanes to hate rallies, from mudslides to mine waste spills – and to help survivors, especially those in marginalized communities to survive, to restore their homes, to build their power, and to vision a more sustainable future.

We will be conducting a series of promotional and capacity-building tours, in which we will educate about how natural storms turn into unnatural disasters, and train affinity groups on subjects like “Solidarity Not Charity,” “Community Organizing as Disaster Preparedness,” and “Building Power in Collaboration.”

We are beginning to make plans for one tour in spring 2018, and another in fall 2018. We will choose our regions based on interest, but our strategy emphasizes covering as many locations as possible, and reaching a diverse mix of urban and rural communities.

A typical visit will span 2-3 days, initiated by an entertaining illustrated story-telling (using Beehive Collective graphics, of course!) about corporate colonization, disaster capitalism, climate change, and the vibrant and diverse movements in resistance to these deadly forces (it will be similar to the innovative “ROCK BOTTOM in the Age of Extreme Resource Extraction” presentation, but using new custom illustrations!).  This will be followed by intensive training in “Community Organizing as Disaster Preparedness” the “Solidarity Not Charity” model, and “Building Power From Below” reinforced with a wide variety of skills.  And this is just the beginning – new local branches of MADR will be supported by the growing network and future trainings.

Please contact tnorman000[at]gmail.com asap if you are interested in hosting a speaking event and/or workshop.  We can discuss possibilities, and then we will plan our route based on where our work is most strategic.  We may not be able to visit everyone in 2018, but we will continue trainings in many regions, so please do not hesitate to get in touch just to indicate your interest or to ask a question!

Please join us as we create a new flood, one made of the overwhelming power of compassion and collaboration, of vision, inspiration, and possibility.

La'Sonya Edwards, an inmate who fights fires in the Southern part of the state, told the New York Times in August: "The pay is ridiculous. There are some days we are worn down to the core. And this isn't that different from slave conditions."

Changes in sentencing designed to decrease prison overcrowding have led, incredibly enough, to the "problem"--as the San Francisco Chronicle described it back in September--of the state "heading into the height of this year's fire season with a drop in the number of what one official called 'the Marines' of wildfire fighters" because "not enough inmates are joining up."

The lack of public resources to deal with fires--including the absence of an adequate emergency alert system, as well as infrastructure upkeep--is what made the situation that preceded the fires more deadly and destructive.

As officials search for a cause, there is speculation that downed power lines may have sparked the initial blazes. Records show that Sonoma emergency dispatchers sent fire crews to at least 10 reports of downed power lines and exploding transformers at the time the fires were first reported.

The electrical utility PG&E claims these downed lines were the result of "hurricane strength," 75-mile-per-hour winds. But according to the Mercury News, weather station records show that "wind speeds were only about half that level as the lines started to come down"--suggesting that lack of maintenance was a likelier culprit.

Other human factors--which officials had years of prior warning about--also likely added to the horror.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Napa, Sonoma and Butte Counties--three of those hardest hit--were warned years ago about improperly maintained roads and staffing that could compound such emergency situations. A 2013 civil grand jury report in Sonoma, for example, warned that because of neglect and underfunding, many rural roads had "deteriorated to a crisis condition" and could "hamper emergency response, evacuation, medical care, and fire response efforts."

Lack of aggressive fire regulations in building construction also added to the destruction. As the Los Angeles Times reported, one of the reasons that the destruction in Santa Rosa's Coffey Park was so severe was because it was considered outside of the "very severe" fire hazard zone just five miles away--meaning the buildings in the area were exempt from regulations designed to make structures more fire resistant.

Puerto Rico: Building A Future Based On Mutual Aid

By Mutual Aid Disaster Relief - It's Going Down, October 14, 2017

We drove through neighborhoods in the mountains with local residents and our comrades from Guaynabo, delivered food, cases of water, water purification tablets, and provided health care to elderly residents and their families sweltering in damaged homes, surrounded by narrow, perilous roads with no power and waning supplies. We are sharing our time, access to resources, knowledge, skills and quickly beating hearts to contribute to people’s survival and self-determination. It is all part of horizontal, participatory, solidarity-based, liberatory mutual aid disaster relief.

Mutual aid, itself, has been here since before Hurricane Maria and embodied by self-organized groups like Sonadora En Acción and Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana. Larger, but also grassroots organizations like Taller Salud and Crowdrescuehq are also spearheading people-powered relief efforts. As wildfires blaze to the west, people in Mexico are still digging out rubble from the earthquake, Houston residents are still cleaning up flooded homes, and people impacted by Irma remain houseless in Florida, we know there is a long road ahead. This is to say nothing of the centuries old disasters of colonization.

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