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URISA's GISCorps Announces Community Maps 4 Puerto Rico Fundraising Campaign

Published Monday, August 27, 2018

Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 causing catastrophic damage.  Recovery is difficult for hurricane survivors given the extent of destruction and the many obstacles to getting back to normalcy. Financial resources for the massive reconstruction are limited.  Please help these small communities recover and prepare for the future, by funding travel expenses of GISCorps volunteers that will provide them with maps to aid in recovery planning.

The Problem: Local government agencies and other community organizations are experiencing a desperate need for current maps that show flood zones, landslide prone areas, transportation and other critical infrastructure which were heavily impacted throughout the island. Without access to the latest information, including information about the impacts of the disaster, locations of recovery projects, or updated hazard information, communities are struggling to make critical decisions:

  • Where should a community in a flood zone be relocated so residents are safer?
  • Which schools marked for closure are safe to use for shelters or community centers?
  • Where are critical natural resources that need protection?
  • Where are good sites for tourism projects, such as hotels and recreation?
  • Where can agricultural rebirth be located?

The Solution: Updated mapping will help local communities rebuild and plan for future disasters, as well as make important decisions about the sustainability of their communities. Maps help local stakeholders with economic development planning, natural resource conservation, decision making for safe land use, and improving community health. The teams will be producing maps for printing as well as in an online web map format.

The Mission: URISA’s GISCorps will provide teams of volunteers that will spend two weeks on the ground to assist local communities in need of mapping assistance. Volunteer teams of two to four GIS professionals will work with identified communities to provide custom services depending on their needs. These communities will be identified in partnership with FEMA Community Planners and the local governments they are assisting with recovery. This will include the consideration of services that are being coordinated with other organizations and local resources on the ground.

GISCorps volunteers will assist in a variety of ways:

  • Field data collection
  • Mapping of areas with high priority needs (i.e. inadequate / informal infrastructure)
  • Digitization of information from Community Knowledge maps (residents add their own observations of hazards / opportunities)
  • Training of local government staff in the use of GIS, GPS, and other resources

Chosen volunteers will not be paid for their time spent on the island or for any follow-up work that results from the project. All donations will go directly to covering per diem and travel expenses.

The Volunteers: URISA's GISCorps coordinates volunteer-based, short term, highly specialized GIS service projects to underprivileged communities. GISCorps has completed over 240 missions in 71 countries. More than 1,700 volunteers have participated in these missions, contributing over 70,000 hours. Learn more.

As GISCorps is a 100% volunteer-run program of URISA (501c3), we are looking for donations of all sizes to help make this project possible. Volunteers will be recruited from our database and extensively vetted by the GISCorps Core Committee. GISCorps , FEMA and URISA have teamed up to bring this humanitarian vision to reality.

The Goal: We hope to get GIS professionals to Puerto Rico before close of this hurricane season.  All donations are tax deductible.

Please contribute via this GoFundMe campaign. No donation is too small. 

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