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Pandemic causes Puerto Rico disaster relief closure

Richard and Gail Fletcher of Putney recently traveled to Puerto Rico on a rebuilding project for hurricane Marie which struck the island in 2017 causing significant structural damage to this US territory . The Brethren Disaster Ministry program has been on the ground rebuilding homes and repairing damage done. The rural areas were hit hard with less of an infrastructure to rebuild than the urban areas have. Many areas were without power for nearly a year.

The Fletchers who have been on several of these disasters with this organization were scheduled to spend two weeks in Puerto Rico on the current building project. They left over a week ago prior to the COVID 19 virus being designated as a pandemic, nor were there any travel restrictions advised.

Twenty fours hours after their arrival, the crisis was named a pandemic, US declared an incoming travel ban from nine countries, and the disaster relief project was closed down for at least 4 weeks.

New air travel restrictions were being discussed and seniors, like the Fletchers were being advised to limit unnecessary travel, even within the country. At this time, US citizens were not being restricted on returning home from abroad unless they were coming from a high risk country.

Fortunately after two days spent in Puerto Rico, the Fletchers were able to get a flight back home. Eight hours after their arrival, Puerto Rico closed all bars, restaurants, and retail shops and most businesses. A curfew was placed on all citizens . A travel ban was proposed.

One day after returning back to Putney The US placed greater restrictions on travel and then many states closed most business, restaurants, bars and most area schools and gatherings were all cancelled.

Although the Fletchers are disappointed that the project was cancelled they are certainly pleased to be back in Putney, now socially distancing themselves for the next 14 days.