Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico

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Information as Aid

On September 20, 2017 Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, killing hundreds of people, causing at least $90 billion in damage, and leaving 95% percent of the island without power.

NetHope stepped in to lead the efforts to restore connectivity in Puerto Rico and enlisted Upswell to develop and launch an Information as Aid campaign.

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Access to credible, reliable information saves lives so we set out to arm Puerto Ricans with valuable information that would support their friends and neighbors.


NetHope delivered practical and hopeful content to people on Facebook multiple times a day and cultivated a Facebook community.

  • One week after launch, the Information as Aid campaign was already reaching over half the population of the island of Puerto Rico.

  • In just 28 days, they grew their page to 34,949 engaged fans and followers who shared their posts 69,714 times with their friends and family.

  • Throughout the nine months of the campaign, it engaged an average of 85,000 people each day.

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They relied on Citizen Reporters to create local content, respond to comments, and spread information across platforms like WhatsApp. They used “deep listening” to understand the community needs and highlight voices from real people. These local, personal touches helped the campaign spread information quickly and broadly by involving Puerto Ricans themselves.

We also helped the campaign leverage Facebook ads to distribute messages far and wide to the right audiences at the right times.

Using social media in a disaster can provide a source of psychological first aid.”

-Mel Taylor, The Australian Journal of Emergency Management 

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