FARMINGDALE, NY /  SAN JUAN, PR – September 29 – A shipment of nearly a thousand pounds of essential medicines including antibiotics, vaccines, asthma and diabetes drugs has landed in San Juan. The items are bound for medical facilities here and on the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebra.

The delivery was shipped Friday morning by private jet from Long Island’s Republic Airport to San Juan’s Isla Grande airport, a regional airport near Old San Juan.

Update 9/30 – the shipment has reached Vieques.

The shipment, its delivery and distribution, was facilitated by Vieques Love, a newly formed relief organization with contributions of medical supplies and medicine from the AFYA Foundation, the Greater New York Hospital Association and local NY area doctors and pharmacies.

Update 10/1 Vieques Love principal Kelly Thompson said in her update  the group has established a “free, fully stocked pharmacy at the Vieques hospital (for the first time since the 1980s) and had helped keep the hospital operational.”

The non-governmental delivery marked a notable logistics challenge as the main airport San Juan International is closed to private aviation. The Ceiba airport, on the eastern shore of Puerto Rico, is open to just military.

En route, the pilot told me that landing at Isla Grande would be a kind of cooperative effort with other pilots in the area as there is no working radar in San Juan to manage traffic as would be normal.

Landing in a driving rainstorm, the boxes were offloaded from the jet and taken to a partially destroyed but dry hanger. The boxes were then picked up by staffers from Seaborne Airlines for delivery to the San Juan Children’s Hospital, then via plane to Vieques and Culebra.

About this Relief Effort

Set up to help in the costly post-Hurricane Maria reconstruction of Vieques, the Vieques Love organization has become active in relief as the local, Commonwealth and U.S. governments have not been effective in quickly delivering aid.

This week, Vieques Love delivered essential communications (including satellite phones), food and fuel. It has assisted the Humane Society in its efforts. Over the next few days it will deliver generators to Vieques along with other necessary items.

You can make a contribution to Vieques Love on this page.

Special Acknowledgements 

The very talented Katy Charles, producer at Beet.TV, for  shooting and editing this video: To the flight crew; the ground crew at Republic Airport, Farmingdale; the ground crew at Signature Aviation, San Juan; Doctor’s Pharmacy, Port Washington and Jack Mann, MD of Weill Cornell.

And most of all the incredibly generous owner of the plane who wishes to be anonymous.

Note about the writer: Andy and his wife have owned a home on Vieques for the past 14 years.  They are part of a growing network of concerned citizens living both on and off the island, helping in the relief and effort. We hope you will help too.