Please join me in support of Ana Victoria and her special needs child, Noel.
Ana Victoria and Noel are from a small town called Utuado, on the island of Puerto Rico, which has suffered horrifically devastating damage from Hurricane Maria.
This category 5 storm with 160+mph sustained winds has since created a horrible humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, with lack of food and water for over 3.5 million American citizens.
Ana Victoria is a single mom who has been lovingly caring for her son that has Autism and Epilepsy. They have literally lost everything due to the hurricane. Their town has been decimated, with over 600 people currently missing from Utuado alone.
We were blessed, and incredibly fortunate, to be able to get them off the island after storm, and brought them here to Kansas City. However, they came with only the shirts on their backs...they have nothing.
Ana Victoria and Noel need shelter, food, clothing and medical attention and counseling. Noel unfortunately suffered a serious seizure during the hurricane, which also happened to be his birthday. They need all the things essential for life that we take for granted everyday.
We've included these links to the photos and videos we took as we survived the storm and subsequent perilous journey to escape the island in its apocalyptic aftermath.
Copy/Paste links below into your web browser to view:
Please open your hearts and donate any amount that you can to this wonderful mother and child in desperate need. Please also pray for them and all the people suffering in Puerto Rico.
Thank you, and God Bless!
If you'd like to read our full account of the events, and how we survived hurricane Maria here is our story:
Hello, my name is Charles Ramsey. I live in Kansas City, Missouri. On Friday, the 15th of September, I traveled to the island of Puerto Rico for a business trip...
On Sunday, the 17th, news began to circulate that another possible hurricane was forming in the Atlantic Ocean with a similar trajectory to hurricane Irma, which grazed the island with category 2 strength approximately a week prior.
By Monday, the 18th, within less than 24 hours, the storm grew from a tropical depression with 60mph winds to a hurricane called Maria, with 160mph winds, making it a deadly category 5 storm.
At this point, all flights into, or out of Puerto Rico, were cancelled. I was staying in the town of Arecibo, less than 100ft from the ocean. Ana Victoria is one of my co-workers who lives on the island. She has a son, Noel, who is a special needs child with Autism and Epilepsy. They live in a town called Utuado, which is in a mountainous region in the center of the island.
Knowing that Maria was heading directly for Puerto Rico, we made the decision to move to a safer location at a hotel in another town called Manati, approximately 30 miles to the west of the capital of San Juan, away from the ocean, and that had a generator for the inevitable loss of electricity.
Tuesday, the 19th, brought the first strong winds and rain from the outer bands of the hurricane as it approached. Maria steadily strengthened with peak wind speeds of 185mph, still on a direct path into the center of the island. We hunkered down after putting her car in a parking garage approximately 2 miles away to protect it, as it was our only form of transportation, post storm. That night as Maria neared, the hotel lost all power and water, and the generator was powered down to protect it during the worst of the storm.
By the morning of Wednesday, the 20th, hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico directly as a category 5 storm, and tore through the island with sustained wind speeds in excess of 160mph. Manati, the town where we were staying went through the eye wall where gusts exceeded 180mph with over 17 inches of rain. In all, the damaging winds and dangerous conditions continued for approximately 12 hours. At one point during the chaos, in darkness and frightening conditions, we celebrated her son Noel's 13th birthday. The hotel, made of reinforced concrete literally shook, and sustained some structural damage and water infiltration. When the winds finally died down below 70mph, the engineers attempted to restart the generator. Unfortunately, with little preparedness and training, they did it incorrectly, and permanently damaged its transformer. This meant no power and no water for the more than 400 people stranded there. Conditions began to deteriorate quickly, and with nightfall approaching it became very dark inside. With no water, the toilets began to smell terribly. With no electricity, the elevators were inoperable, leaving only pitch black stairwells for people to climb and descend. Children, and especially the elderly, had a very difficult time navigating up and down. Temperatures began to steadily rise with no operable ventilation system, and unfortunately this caused Noel to suffer a serious seizure. In spite of a mandatory curfew, scattered debris, and downed live power lines, we were forced to make our way on foot to a nearby hospital. Noel was treated, but even there, the building and its generators were structurally damaged. Thus, we had no choice but to cautiously make our way back to the hotel. That night we again climbed pitch black stairwells and endured stifling heat and humidity.
Thursday, the 21st brought increasingly dangerous conditions for the 400+ people sheltering at the hotel. Utter lack of preparation, instruction to guests, and proper emergency training on the hotel's part meant things were becoming increasingly dangerous with little food and water. By mid-morning, amid terrible devastation, and due to pressure from numerous guests, attempts were made to contact the local municipalities' emergency services for help. However, most roads were impassable due to downed trees, power lines and debris. All communications with the outside world were severed. Landline phones were down, along with all cellular networks and Internet. Finally, by mid-day the first emergency responders arrived, and after assessing the rapidly deteriorating conditions, they shut down the hotel and everyone was forced to leave. Shelters were already full and beginning to run out of food and water, so most of the people had nowhere to go...us included. We began a perilous attempt to get to Ana Victoria's car, and to try to make it to San Juan before the curfew. This again meant walking through exceedingly dangerous conditions with a special needs child.
Luckily, the car we hid in the parking garage was safe, and we began our pursuit of shelter. Driving was also terribly dangerous. We had to cross through water up to the hood of the car, dodge downed trees, cross over and under downed power lines. We unfortunately hit debris at one point, damaging the front of the car, and got to a point where it would no longer start due to water getting into its electronics. At times we were forced to drive on the opposite side of the expressway with other vehicles heading towards us at high speeds. We still had no communication with the outside world. After numerous near misses, and having to cross every intersection without traffic lights, we finally made it to a colleague's home in a suburb of San Juan called Guynabo. There, we were offered refuge, food and water.
Getting to Guynabo, we had witnessed catastrophic destruction everywhere, like a nuclear bomb, and literally almost died a few different times.
Friday, the 22nd, we decided that conditions on the island were getting desperate. There were reports of some looting, robberies, and the oppressive heat continued to increase, so we attempted to make our way to the airport in San Juan. We again encountered very dangerous conditions. We witnessed catastrophic destruction everywhere: landslides, damage to homes and structures, flooded areas with numerous cars under water, no leaves left on any trees that were still standing, and desperate people searching for fuel, food, water, their loved ones, abandoned pets, and a myriad of other tragic sights. By mid-morning we finally arrived at the airport in San Juan, where we found its generators had also failed -- again, no power. They only allowed 5 commercial fights in that day, and hundreds upon hundreds of people, like us, found themselves in a dark, sweltering hot terminal. We endured that for more than 9 and a half hours, standing in lines that stretched the length of the airport. The smell was intense, and many people nearly passed out from the heat. Everything from ticketing, to TSA security had to be done manually, by hand, with pencil and paper. It was an utterly grueling and slow process. That being said, we endured it, barely, and for several hours were told that Ana Victoria and Noel would not be allowed on the flight. It was heartbreaking on levels beyond description. At the very last moment, we were told that they could come with me, and I was blessed to finally fly out with Ana Victoria and her son. We arrived near midnight in Philadelphia, stayed overnight there, and finally flew to my home in Kansas City.
The island was decimated. The destruction is beyond imagination from a category 5 hurricane. A dam is now failing due to 25 inches of rain, causing authorities to attempt to evacuate over 70,000 people with no communication. There is still very, very, limited communication to and from the island.
3.5 million American citizens (Puerto Ricans) are living in desperate conditions. Most were only able to store 3 to 5 days of food and water before the hurricane struck. As the necessities to sustain life grow more and more scarce, it has become an ever increasingly dangerous and possibly violent environment. Hysteria, fear and desperation is now prevalent as people are left with no food and water.
Ana Victoria and her son are exceedingly fortunate to have made it out, but they need help. Her town was hit with the maximum impact of the storm's winds and rain. They've already located 10 dead, but there are over 600 people from her town still missing, including loved ones and friends. Her home is gone, and for the most part, so is the entire town. People have no fuel, no medicine, and the hospitals have run out of diesel to power their generators. This is a horrific humanitarian crisis!
Ana Victoria and her son have come here with me, with little more than the clothes on their backs, and this incredibly stressful situation is a significant trigger for her son to have more seizures.
I've created this GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for them to have a place to stay, food to eat, clothes, medicine for Noel...basically all the necessities for living that we all take for granted everyday. They desperately need help!
Thank you for reading Ana Victoria and Noel's story. They are real people who REALLY need our help. Please share their story among your friends/contacts, please donate, please pray, and please encourage others to consider supporting Ana Victoria and Noel through GoFundMe. If you can't give financially, could you instead please contact your elected officials in Congress and ask them to please vote to send humanitarian aid quickly to Puerto Rico? These are Americans, and they need our help.
If we all help in our unique and powerful ways, we can make this terrible situation a little better day by day.
On behalf of Ana Victoria and Noel, thank you!
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