Student Faculty Council Supports Hurricane Maria Relief
This September, Puerto Rico, home to 3.5 million U.S. citizens and ancestral home to some five and a half million more, was struck by the strongest hurricane it has experienced in nearly a century. Hurricane Maria hit the island with sustained winds 2 mph short of the 157 mph required for categorization as a category five. The hurricane has been described as a 50-60 mile wide tornado, but that doesn't account for the 30 inches of rain that were dropped on the island. The entire island lost internet and cellular services, as well as power and drinking water, while 60,000 still hadn’t regained power since Hurricane Irma earlier in September. All of this comes on top of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy and economic crisis.
Relief efforts have been unsatisfactory, partially due to the rapid escalation of the hurricane, and partially, critics allege, due to federal ambivalence. Just four days before landfall in Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center identified the storm as “Potential Tropical Cyclone 15”, and by early that evening, it was already a tropical storm with 50 mph sustained winds. Though Maria was expected by 2 days before landfall to be a category 5 storm, it wasn't until the day before landfall that President Trump and the Pentagon released their first comments regarding the storm. The Federal Government has apparently been reluctant to fully commit to the relief effort - when President Trump first visited, nearly a week after the storm hit, he complained that Puerto Rico had “thrown [the U.S. government’s] budget out of wack” while seated next to the island’s Governor, before proceeding to solemnly toss out individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper later that day. Fortunately, the Riverdale community is here to do its part.
According to Student-Faculty Council Co-Presidents Jackson Harris and Alexander Karr, Riverdale’s relief efforts were pushed by both students and faculty - namely interested seniors and Upper School Head Kelley Nicholson-Flynn. After unanimously agreeing that a drive was in order, the SFC used two specific tactics to ensure the success of the drives - specialization and incentives.
According to Riverdale SFC President Alexander Karr, could not bring in food and over-the-counter medicine, so the SFC allotted one family of necessities to be brought in by each grade: for example, the seniors brought in dental hygiene products. This, Karr said, gives “grades... specific identity”.
Ms. Susan Polise was a little less receptive to the other tactic suggested. When Harris claimed that there would be rewards for the grade that brought in the most in a grade meeting, Ms. Polise reminded him of the moral aspect involved regarding why students should be motivated to help Puerto Rico.
The Mow Deans’ office alone was overflowing with supplies. Even though Riverdale may not be able to directly travel to Puerto Rico, we can still know that our efforts are going to a good cause.