Jennifer Lopez donates US$1 million to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico

Jennifer Lopez speaks at an event about recovery efforts in Puerto Rico in New York, on Sept 24, 2017. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (AFP) - Pop star and actress Jennifer Lopez on Sunday (Sept 24) offered US$1 million (S$1.35 million) for Puerto Rico as she helped launch an effort by New York state to support the hurricane-battered US island.

Lopez, born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, said she was donating the money to assorted charities and would work with fellow Latin stars to do more after Hurricane Maria killed at least 33 people in Puerto Rico and Dominica just after the devastation of mega-storm Irma.

"This was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 20 years and the damage is horrible," Lopez told a news conference with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. "We urgently need to dedicate attention and support to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean through donations and any help," she said in Spanish.

Lopez, who is dating baseball legend Alex Rodriguez, said the couple were working with athletes to arrange two aircraft to deliver supplies.

New York-based airline JetBlue also promised US$1 million in-kind by transporting people and cargo for relief efforts.

Lopez was named co-chair of a New York state initiative to assist Puerto Rico, which will include public donation centres and government monitoring for potential abuses in aid solicitation. The initiative comes two days after Cuomo visited Puerto Rico with donations that included 34,000 bottles of water and 9,600 ready-to-eat meals.

New York has historically been a hub for Puerto Ricans who move to the mainland United States. More than 700,000 residents of New York City identify as Puerto Rican, along with nearly as many people elsewhere in the state, according to non-governmental studies.

"We know how much destruction has been done, and how hard it is going to be to rebuild Puerto Rico," Cuomo said. "We also know that given the financial pressures that the island was under before, it makes the task even more difficult," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.