Yabucoa, Pr : Maria's Ground Zero


              Ground Zero – Yabucoa , Puerto Rico



My name is Erik F Soto. I am an Internal Medicine
Resident at Penn State University Milton Hershey Medical Center.  I recently moved to Pennsylvania after spending the last 8 years of my life in Puerto Rico. As a Puerto Rican I feel a strong need to do what I can to help my country post Hurricane Maria.

On the morning of September 20th, Hurricane Maria entered Yabucoa, Puerto Rico with fury.  The Cat 4-5 hurricane decimated the city leaving timber behind. Although massive efforts to ship goods and necessities to the people of Puerto Rico are underway, the efforts are stalled by the magnitude of this tragedy.

Assistance that is received is focused on the large capital of San Juan, leaving the small port city of Yabucoa in need.

The Mayor of Yabucoa is Rafael Surillo.  He is the quintessential example of a gentleman for others and a true leader.  Since day one of the hurricane, he has been out on the streets registering every resident of his city and finding out what exactly the city and its people need to lift them from this catastrophic event.  In fact, on the first day, Rafael could be found,  working clearing the main roads from the rural mountains to the city center on a bulldozer.

In a recent interview, he presented in a calm and collected way the issues his people are dealing with. Mainly, lack of food and water, but he also knew exactly how many electrical poles were down, how many electrical service stations were out of commission and how many of his neighbors were left absolutely homeless.

Interview Link: https://www.facebook.com/wkaq580/videos/1601373119938148/ 

He knew there were over 2,000 wooden homes that were destroyed.  He knew that there were 28 families in the small city shelter.  He was concerned that those families were all still wearing the same clothes on 9/27 as they were on 9/20.  He also reflected on the importance of repairing the port of Yabucoa to allow the gas and petroleum companies to deliver fuel to Puerto Rico.  As mayor, Rafael Surillo, knew that  33% of fuel used in Puerto Rico arrives through the Yabucoa port and he was determined to repair damages to aid in getting fuel and relief to the rest of Puerto Rico. Rafael Surillo is a man for others. There is no doubt in my mind that Rafael Surillo will lead and unite the people as they rebuild.  I knew and loved Yabucoa when I lived in Puerto Rico.  I feel a calling to help this tiny city that was Ground Zero and give aid to the beautiful people of Yabucoa.

There are many people raising funds for the victims of Hurricane Maria. This Ground Zero fund raiser will be used to directly help this amazing town that although small in size has a big heart.

I appreciate any and all help whether it be monetary or items that I can personally ship. I personally know Rafael Surillo and his family. Once the funds are raised, I’ll be in contact with Rafael Surillo. Once the money is gifted to the city of Yabucoa, I look forward to being able to provide you with real time feed back in regards to how your donation was able to assist and provide for the people of Yabucoa.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Erik F Soto


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Erik F. Soto 
Yabucoa, PR
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