by Katie Rygg
I have met some pretty incredible people in the climate network in the past few years but Wanda Martinez-Johncox is next-level. Wanda is a member of the Color Your Community Green network from Canandaigua. A couple of months ago, I found out that she runs a non-profit, Re-lief Corp, a 501(3)(c), which focuses on personally putting food and critical supplies directly into the hands of the people who need it after hurricanes or other disasters hit.
Just last month, she went to Honduras to distribute meals and supplies to folks who are still displaced by the twin Category 4 Hurricanes that made landfall 15 miles and less than two weeks apart last November, Eta and Iota.
Re-lief Corp is successful and effective because of the trusting partnerships they've created with local non-profits like Hearts2Honduras (H2H), Grande Famille Du Su-Est in Haiti, and Equality Bahamas.
She opened the doors of her organization after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. While the Category 4 storm did horrific damage directly, the recovery was painfully, tragically slow. Many were left without power for nearly a year. For those needing power for ventilators, respirators, or refrigerators to preserve life saving medicine, and could not access a generator, this was a death sentence.
This CNN article written 6 months after Hurricane Maria paints the grim picture.
Her mother, Julia "Miriam" Rodriguez, stayed with Natalio while Lourdes rushed to restart the generator, which had run out of gas, and repower the breathing machine. Her mother felt Natalio's body go limp in her arms and then collapse to the floor, face down.
To tackle this problem head on, in addition to delivering food, masks, and other supplies, Re-lief Corp is now pivoting to purchase personal 100W solar panels with battery packs to help people power those breathing apparatuses and refrigerators.
Wanda is pictured here with Dr. David who had some displaced patients in the mountains that needed breathing treatments. This new battery, connected to a 100w solar panel can save lives. Now he uses it often during his relief work with his patients.
Please consider donating to this incredible organization. Re-lief Corp is doing critical climate adaptation work - helping people to adjust to the new reality of increasing frequency and severity of storms resulting in power outages. With home micro-grids, this is one climate-induced storm that can be weathered.
How to Donate:
1. By Check:
233 Buffalo St.
Canandaigua, NY 14424
2. By venmo:
3. By Cash App
Inspiration from Wanda's email signature:
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.” Mother Teresa
Are Hurricanes and Climate Change Related?
Hurricanes are nothing new to planet Earth. What is new is the frequency, ferocity, and the rapid intensification that is all on the rise.
The last five years of hurricanes have all been record-breaking:
2020 Hurricane Laura. Louisiana. Category 4 with 150 mph winds.
2020. Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Nicaragua. Both Category 4. Just 15 miles apart from each other in less than two weeks.
2019. Hurricane Dorian. Atlantic Ocean. Category 5 with winds of 185 mph.
2018. Hurricane Michael. Florida. Category 5
2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria ranked among the costliest hurricanes in history and affected millions of people in Texas, Louisiana, southwest Florida, North Carolina and Puerto Rico.
Most scientists agree that this is very likely due to climate change.
The US Geological Survey lays out the breadcrumbs:
With increasing global surface temperatures the possibility of more droughts and increased intensity of storms will likely occur.
As more water vapor is evaporated into the atmosphere it becomes fuel for more powerful storms to develop.
More heat in the atmosphere and warmer ocean surface temperatures can lead to increased wind speeds in tropical storms.
Rising sea levels expose higher locations not usually subjected to the power of the sea and to the erosive forces of waves and currents.
Check out these videos to learn more:
Climate Scientist, Katharine Hayhoe's Global Weirding series: Were These Lastest Hurricanes Caused by Global Warming?