Graduate Student and Retired Police Officer Puts Vocation Toward Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico

Roberto Rivera, a fourth-year sociology graduate student and retired police officer.

When hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20th, 2017, it caused more damage than ever previously recorded in the region. The aftermath affected everyone on the island, causing food and water shortages, and a loss of electricity and phone service that limited communications and utilities for months. Luckily, UCR’s own Roberto Rivera, a fourth-year sociology graduate student, was there to help, as a volunteer with The American Red Cross.

Rivera was a part of the Riverside chapter of the National disaster team at the time of the hurricane, and is a retired police officer with an emergency background. While in Puerto Rico, Rivera held multiple relief volunteer positions, starting with the role of government liaison. In this role, Rivera worked with the local government to coordinate with organizations to provide resources to victims. After returning to the States, Rivera was invited back to Puerto Rico because of his superior knowledge of the island and ability to speak Spanish. He obliged, becoming the Northern supervisor of relief efforts. In his final weeks there, Rivera worked on route distribution, a security effort put in place to monitor truck routes and vehicles falling victim to commandeering. With efforts like these in place, Rivera and his team could focus on getting supplies to the correct destinations.

Samantha Stanfill

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