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The American Health Podcast is created by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, a project of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Initiative works to tackle some of the most pressing challenges to public health in the United States: Addiction and Overdose, Environmental Challenges, Obesity and the Food System, Risks to Adolescent Health and Violence. Visit to learn more.

Jul 21, 2020

In September 2017, Hurricane María devastated the island of Puerto Rico. A group of Johns Hopkins affiliates - two physicians, a PhD student in health communication, and an electrical engineer - wanted to help their homeland. They formed an organization called Puerto Rico Stands, with the goal of supporting the long-term recovery of the island. They decided to focus their efforts on Sector Maná, a rural area that had been directly hit by the hurricane.

Over the past several years, Puerto Rico Stands has worked with leaders and community members to help Sector Maná become more resilient and self-sustaining in the face of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, as well as other major challenges, including the coronavirus.

Today, we're speaking with two of the co-founders of Puerto Rico Stands - Yonaira Rivera, now an assistant professor in health communication at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, and Hadi Esieley-Barrera, an electrical engineer at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. We’re joined by Jose Carlos Sanchez Cintron with El Familion, a group of community leaders in Sector Maná who mobilized the community immediately after Hurricane María and worked with the Puerto Rico Stands team. Jose Carlos will be speaking in Spanish, with translation provided by Hadi.