Puerto Rico is suffering unfathomable damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the U.S. territory earlier this week and left 100 percent of the island without power. Many celebrities are using their star power and wide audiences to encourage their fans to donate to relief efforts, including Jennifer Lopez, who shared a message about the hurricane with her 69 million Instagram followers, pleading with them to help Puerto Rico.
Lopez was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, and revealed in her emotional video that she and her cousin have not yet been able to contact their families in Puerto Rico. "The devastation is beyond belief," Lopez says, and that is really the crux of the crisis — the damage is so severe that it's near impossible to comprehend. But even if you can't understand the damage, you can still donate, so the island can rebuild.
Lopez posted the Instagram video late Thursday night from backstage at her Las Vegas residency. "What's on my mind is what's going on in Puerto Rico. The devastation is beyond belief," she said. "Me and my cousin still haven’t been able to hear from our families over there." She also emphasized just how dire the state of the territory is: "Our island of Puerto Rico has been hit by two of the most devastating hurricanes we have ever seen, Irma and Maria."
Addressing the helplessness that many are feeling in the wake of the natural disasters, Lopez said, "What’s foremost on my mind and many others is trying to figure out the best way to help. I urge you to support and donate to the efforts of the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Areizaga."
The organization Lopez is supporting, and encouraging her fans to donate to, is United For Puerto Rico, an "initiative brought forth by the First lady of Puerto Rico, Mrs. Beatriz Rosselló in collaboration with the private sector" to provide support, aid, and relief, according to its website.
As Lopez says in her moving video, the aftermath of Maria is, truly, beyond belief. The Category 4 storm, which made landfall on the island on Wednesday, is the largest storm Puerto Rico has seen since 1932. With windspeeds of roughly 155 MPH and up to seven inches of rain per hour, the island lost 100 percent of its electricity, leaving all of its 3.5 million people without power unless they had access to a generator. The estimated death toll as of Friday is 13 people, according CBS News. Reportedly, the island could be without power for weeks or even months.
Lopez is not the only celebrity with Puerto Rican roots calling on fans and followers for aid and donations. She re-posted a video from her ex-husband Marc Anthony, who also encouraged people to donate to United for Puerto Rico. In his Instagram video, Anthony's voice cracks while he talks bout the island facing "the wrath of two historic hurricanes." The singer said, "Today, Puerto Rico needs your help and I'm calling on everyone to support and donate, to help Puerto Rico rebuild and come out stronger than ever." The rebuilding is crucial — Puerto Rico's infrastructure is all but decimated, with its power grid completely knocked out and 95 percent of cell phone service down, according to NPR, in addition to flooded streets and destroyed homes and buildings.
Among others who have reached out to fans encouraging them to donate are Rosie Perez, Daddy Yankee and Ricky Martin, who has started a YouCaring campaign to raise funds for the Puerto Rico relief effort. As of Friday, he had nearly reached his $200,000 goal.
Lopez says at the end of her Instagram video, "Together we can help rebuild our island, and the Caribbean." Lopez and Anthony encourage donations to United for Puerto Rico, but there are plenty of other ways almost anyone can help.