Tech companies — and the nation — have been slow to mobilize in response to the devastation wrought by last week’s catastrophic Hurricane Maria that decimated Puerto Rico, but today Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed the company’s response.
With 90 percent of the island territory’s cell towers out of service, people on the island are finding it impossible to communicate with loved ones on the mainland in the U.S., and rescue workers can’t coordinate their relief efforts.
Zuckerberg said his company is sending the Facebook connectivity team to deliver emergency telecommunications assistance to the storm-ravaged island nation.
The company also will donate $1.5 million to NetHope and the World Food Programme, and is committing Facebook ad space to disseminate information to people in the region on how to get assistance and stay safe, Zuckerberg wrote.
The text of Zuck’s post is below:
I’ve been following the news from Puerto Rico where millions of Americans still don’t have food, water, fuel and electricity after Hurricane Maria.
Communication is critical during a disaster. With 90% of cell towers on the island out of service, people can’t get in touch with their loved ones — and it’s harder for rescue workers to coordinate relief efforts.
We’re working to get Puerto Rico back online. We’re sending the Facebook connectivity team to deliver emergency telecommunications assistance to get the systems up and running. We’re also supporting this work with a $1.5 million donation to NetHope and the World Food Programme. We’re also donating Facebook ads to get critical information to people in the region on how to get assistance and stay safe.
I’m thinking of everyone in Puerto Rico and the many other communities that have been affected by recent hurricanes. One way you can help is by donating to Save the Children to support the recovery and relief efforts.
This story is developing and we’ll update it with responses from other tech companies as we get them.