40 msfocusmagazine.org Power to the People with MS Emergency Assistance Grant Helps Bring Relief After Disasters You may be familiar with the MS Focus Emergency Assistance Grant, which helps individuals with MS in financial crisis. The program provides full or partial financial assistance for urgent needs related to rent, utilities, or medication copays for disease- modifying treatments. A lesser-known goal of the program is to provide aid for people with MS in disaster zones. The latterhalf of 2017 placed newdemands on the program, as wildfires raced across California, and hurricanes tore through the Caribbean, slamming into the southern U.S. In response, MS Focus released additional funds for disaster relief, and reopened our cooling program (typically only available from February to June) for those without power. Particularly hard hit were the people of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria devastated the American island, leaving more than 1.5 million people without power, destroying infrastructureand80percentoftheagricultural industry, and killing hundreds. The island only had one operational hospital in the wake of the storm. The destruction experienced by the people there is still being felt and dealt with today. For people with MS, the excessive heat, lack of clean water, and difficulty accessing medical care set the stage for serious health problems to further complicate their already precarious position. One woman explains how the chaotic conditions affected her, and howdisaster relief through the MS Focus EmergencyAssistance Grant helped her. This is Sayonara’s story: My name is Sayonara Cuevas and I live in Puerto Rico. I’m a single mom with two kids, and have been living with MS for the past five years. I was very stable before Hurricane Maria hit the island on Sept 20, 2017. I have family on the U.S. mainland, but could not abandon my home and my kids. I never thought what hit us would be so strong and would affect me so badly. After the storm hit, my condition worsened rapidly because of the lack of water and electricity. I suffer from hemiparesis of the right side,which means I experienceweakness, MS Focus Activities