Activists want New York City disaster relief centers to help relatives of Puerto Rico victims

Monday, October 09, 2017 06:14PM
Kemberly Richardson has more on the relief efforts for Puerto Rico.

THE BRONX - Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, people in our area are still struggling to reach loved ones and get much needed supplies to the island.

"I'm here trying to do the best I can to make my heart feel good," said Annette DeJesus, who is desperately searching for her sister Milagros. "But I don't know anything about my sister."

So many areas of Puerto Rico are virtually cut off from communication, and 85 percent of the island still has no power.

Maria knocked our colleagues at ABC 5 off the air, but still, they were able to travel to some of the hardest hit towns in the mountains and on the coast. DeJesus hasn't been able to contact her sister.

"Where she's at, it's in an area where there's a bridge," she said. "You have to go around and under. I don't know if it got flooded. I don't know what the situation is."

It is a situation many fear will get worse before it gets better.

"People dying," Dr. Mayra Rodriguez said. "People are dying."

Dr. Rodriguez said many people need things like insulin, and she already made one trip to the island and plans to head back soon. This time, she will bring her own official rescue team.

"They need the MDs and the medical supplies, and that's a phone call away from any major hospital here," she said. "We can do better. You're not going to convince me we can't do better."

And that is what the group here at home is determined to do. They want Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to open disaster relief centers, one in each borough, where families can get information about relatives in Puerto Rico and also help those in need.

"There are avenues," activist Irene Estrada-Rukaj said. "And with relief centers, it brings other community organizations together and work with disaster relief, and things will get done quicker."
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