Here's How Bethenny Frankel Made An "Underground Army" To Help Puerto Rico
"We could all talk about it and beat each other up and blame each other, or you could pick up a broom and clean."
Bethenny Frankel is so consumed with helping the people of Puerto Rico struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that she is dreaming of relief efforts. As she works to coordinate sending supplies to the battered island via her B Strong campaign, she recently dreamt someone had offered her 600 private planes to help transport goods.
"I thought it was real," Frankel told BuzzFeed News' Twitter morning show, AM to DM, on Wednesday. "I'm locked in and I've got to find a way out at some point because I do have another business and another life.
"But it's really hard to unknow what you know," said the entrepreneur and reality TV star, who recently traveled to Puerto Rico to deliver supplies herself. "Once you know we need dialysis, I need insulin, we have a baby that's on a vent, a high school that needs medicine. You hear all this stuff and then everyone is coming to you and you don't want to disappoint."
When Frankel first saw the images coming out of the battered US territory she felt compelled to help, but she said she was repeatedly rebuffed when she reached out to groups to offer her assistance.
"They said, 'No, we don't need your help, we've got this,'" the Shark Tank guest judge said.
Instead, she connected with strangers trying to do good in Puerto Rico, coordinating their efforts via online messages and on Twitter.
"There are other people out there trying to help that were also rejected, so I sort of connected with the rejects, and we created this army, this underground army of probably 25 Puerto Rican people and myself that are doing this all.
"I have never met them before," she said. "This isn't my assistants, this isn't my friends — this is strangers and myself through chatrooms that are working together 24 hours a day."
Frankel was herself responsible for initially sending at least seven planes packed with goods to the island, and she has since helped coordinate dozens more.
She is now working to transport millions of pounds of relief supplies via cargo ship.
Asked by AM to DM host Saeed Jones about the Trump administration's response to the disaster, Frankel did say "some ball has been dropped."
"Somebody somewhere dropped the ball because I've been in those small towns," she said. "No one has visited them."
"People wait two and a half hours to just get some food. They're rationing water. They're living in mud. So some ball has been dropped," she said.
However, the Real Housewives of New York City star declined to criticize the government's response, saying it was more important to focus on helping Puerto Ricans.
"I'm not really involved in politics," she said. "I don't work in the West Wing. I don't know exactly what they're doing. It's not really my business.
"My business is that I saw a mess and we could all talk about it and beat each other up and blame each other, or you could pick up a broom and clean."