Since many friends have asked how to help, we've set up this fundraising page to ensure we can get our family what they urgently need. We will update this page as often as possible with updates on how we intend to support our family. Any contributions -- and your prayers -- are much appreciated as they recover from the storm.
UPDATE FROM WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1
It has been over five weeks since Hurricane Maria struck the island we love and adore. After three visits to the island by Quito, Riqui, and Mari, we report that the situation on the island is still calamitous. While we wait for order to return to our family and friends in Puerto Rico, and neighboring USVI, it is clear we have a long road to tow. The most urgent concern is drinking water and electricity. To add to the chaotic existence, it is very hard for families to communicate their needs. However, as always, the Borinquen heart and spirit is strong and determined.
We are pleased to report we have been able to provide 11,000 pounds of relief supplies that include generators, auxiliary materials, canned food, and drinking water. All have been successfully delivered to numerous families between October 26th and 29th in the following towns: Barranquitas, Coamo, Orocovis, Cayey, Guayama, Utuado, Carolina, Hatillo, and Guaynabo. In addition to providing supplies, we repaired the roof of our cousin Alida Saez's home in Barranquitas. We hope to repair additional homes in the coming weeks.
While the process to purchase, ship, and distribute the supplies in Puerto Rico took much longer time that we imagined, our relatives are very appreciative. This effort would not have been possible without the help of over 140 contributors to the fund, as well as, numerous companies, friends, and family that provided critical support to make this effort successful.
We want to acknowledge the following friends and family for getting the supplies to those who most needed them: Negri Rodriguez, Jorge Luis Montavo, Glory Ortiz, Felipe Andujar, Evelyn Alvarado, William Motta, and Sean Aviles.
We also want to highlight the companies that provided resources to move the materials, in particular: Atlantic Stone and Tile (Tim Jackson in St Augustine, FL) and Servios de los Llanos (Hector Robles and Carlos Rivera in Corozal, PR). Without their transportation support, the materials would have been delayed. We also appreciate the assistance from Crowley Maritime Corporation (Carlos Rivera and Maria Yunque) and Departmento de Hacienda (Norma Perez with the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury) for expediting the shipping and processing of the supplies during these difficult times on the island.
There are truly no words to adequately express the joy, appreciation, and emotion that we have witnessed from our families when they were able to turn on a refrigerator, fan, and lights to see in the dark.
There is more to come. We will keep you abreast of our efforts during the course of this recovery effort. Once again, thank you for the support. Que Dios los bendiga y los guarde en su corazon siempre.
UPDATE FROM TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10
Over the weekend, Riqui and Sharon traveled to St. Augustine to meet Gil and Wanda Rodriguez to pack shipping pallets with equipment and supplies. Thanks to the generosity of our family and friends, they were able to ship 2,000 pounds worth of urgently needed items, including generators, fans, cooking stoves, non-perishable food, solar-powered flash lights and chargers, tarps, and more. A neighbor who owns a tile company was kind enough to help with transporting the items to the shipping yard.
We expect they will arrive in Puerto Rico within two weeks and Riqui will fly to San Juan to receive them and distribute the items with the help of our family and friends on the island. News reports show that rural communities in Puerto Rico are receiving little, if any, government assistance, so these items will be critical to their survival in the coming weeks.
While he is there, Riqui will continue to assess the needs of our relatives and we will then determine how the remainder of the funds raised will be used to help them recover and rebuild their lives. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the prayers, donations, and support you have provided us over the last few weeks. Gracias por tu apoyo y que Dios bendiga nuestras familias.
UPDATE FROM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6
We appreciate everyone's support and generosity in our efforts to get our family on the island back on their feet during this terrible ordeal. While news outlets are beginning to reach towns like Aibonito, federal assistance has still not reached the areas in central Puerto Rico where our families live. Thanks to your generosity, we are working to deliver urgently needed supplies to address their needs - including power, food and water, and other basic necessities. We are also doing everything we can to encourage the government to provide relief to central Puerto Rico and raise awareness of the dire conditions on the island.
Based on Quito's findings while he was in Puerto Rico last week, we have purchased several generators, canned foods, and essential non-perishable items. Riqui and Sharon will drive these items to St. Augustine over the weekend where they will be shipped via Crowley Shipping. We anticipate the supplies will arrive in Puerto Rico on Friday, October 13. Our intention is to be in Puerto Rico in time to receive and distribute the supplies to family members in Cayey, Aibonito, Barranquitas, and Utuado over the weekend with the assistance of cousins and friends.
We would not be able to provide this assistance without your support. We hope you know just how much we appreciate your friendship, prayers, and the humanitarian spirit you have all shared with us and our family. We will continue to keep you informed of conditions on the island and how we are working to help our family recover and rebuild.
UPDATE FROM SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1
Quito has returned from Puerto Rico. Our family is safe, however they are in shock by the devastation and are having difficulty getting by day to day. Local and federal assistance has not reached them yet – 11 days after the storm.
Clean water sources are a major issue, food is quickly becoming scarce, and getting access to fuel consumes the day. Since the power is out, most are without work and will need resources to buy the basic items they need to sustain. Communications in central Puerto Rico are practically non-existent. In some cases, people are less than a mile away from each other and have no means of communicating or traveling to see one another due to road loss. Phones aren’t working, and in the central part of the island, there is no radio reception. In many cases, roofs are either gone or have severe leaks, some of our family homes are total losses. We are working quickly to get them additional assistance.
The public health situation is deteriorating, and the death toll may be higher than reported. There are reports of improper burials of people who died during the storm or due to lack of medical attention. There are also severe concerns regarding the passing of dengue, Zika, and other disease. Mosquitos are becoming out of control because there is so much sitting water and no air circulating.
We are discussing how best to apply the generous contributions you have made to address their immediate concerns. We will be making another trip in the coming days to deliver urgently needed supplies.
Please note: We will be withdrawing these funds ourselves to purchase supplies and get them to our relatives to Puerto Rico, rather than our relatives directly withdrawing funds since they unable to do so themselves. There may be a need to relocate the family members to other parts of the island or to the continental U.S.
If there are any remaining funds available after we purchase the necessary supplies, equipment, and other aid for our family members, it will be donated to the American Red Cross. We will provide as many updates as possible to ensure everyone knows how the funds are being spent. Thanks again.
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