Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean. (Courtesy photo)

D.C.-area residents who have lived in the region for most or parts of their lives and whose families and loved ones still live in the Caribbean have continued their push to assist hurricane-torn Puerto Rico and several other islands.

A group of individuals have founded a new nonprofit called the Caribbean Disaster Relief & Recovery Alliance, Inc., whose model is “helping people recover their lives.”

“This effort is more important than ever and, based on the weather projections, we may have even more islands impacted,” said Loughton Sargeant, a St. Croix native and senior electrical engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who serves of treasurer for the nonprofit.

“The most important message I can give to folks is that people are suffering and we need help,” Sargeant said. “Some have no food, no clothes and it’s critical that we reach out.”

The Caribbean Disaster Relief and Recovery Alliance was established this month to help address the needs of disaster stricken islands such as St. Thomas, St. John, St. Marteen, Antigua, Tortola and Barbuda.

Later, the nonprofit added St. Croix, Dominica and Puerto Rico to the islands they’re seeking to assist.

The death toll from Hurricane Maria continues to climb, Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, told reporters.

Browne said Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reported widespread devastation and his own house was destroyed by the storm.

Meteorologists said as much as 18 inches was dumped on Puerto Rico in less than two days after the storm began last month.

Elaine Simon, a member of the nonprofit, said those islands will need assistance for years to come.

She said group has enlisted the help of former Maryland senator and WOLB talk show host Larry Young and radio DJ Lolo, who also hails from the Virgin Islands.

“We are in direct contact with individuals from those islands in addition to what the governments are doing, they need our help,” Simon said.

The nonprofit has continued to collect nonperishables, baby clothes and wipes, sheets, towels, feminine products, tooth pastes and many other items as well as cash to assist those in need.

They’ve identified churches and other organizations to ensure that those in need receive the donations as soon as possible.

Later, the organization will work to help with larger requests such as doors, windows, hammers and nails to help rebuild the islands – particularly Barbuda, an island that has been totally devastated, Simon said.

They’ll also include donations to Texas and Florida victims, too, she said.

“We do have brothers and sisters and families in Texas and in Florida and we need to give back to them and this group is very diverse and very committed,” Simon said. “We’ll take whatever; 50 cents, $1. It will all help with shipping and purchasing items in addition to what we’re already collecting.”

For more information or to donate, call 443-869-1835 or visit www.cdra-inc.org.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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