Destruction in Puerto Rico Felt Here in CNY and Across New York State

Sep 26, 2017

New York State officials surveyed damage in Puerto Rico and are coordinating relief donations, noting the large population of Puerto Ricans in NYS.

People here in Central New York are concerned about the welfare of relatives and others in Puerto Rico.  New York is also the state with the most immigrants from the island, which is fueling relief efforts.  Syracuse University’s Bea Gonzales is from Cayey, Puerto Rico and has been trying to find out about her Father and Aunt there.  She’s heard they’re o-k, but hasn’t talked to either one.  In addition to impassable roads and no power, there’s another gripping problem.

“One challenge is the loss of, the entire agriculture system in Puerto Rico is wiped out.  Coffee, crops, everything is just gone.  Some of the food supply was coming from the Dominican Republic and some of the other islands, and they didn’t fare much better.  Just getting food to that island is going to be a challenge that was not anticipated.”

New York has set up systems to help deliver food, donations and other supplies.  Drop off locations are at state buildings;  in Syracuse, that’s the State Office Building on Washington Street.  Gonzales says essentials such as batteries, flashlights, basic building supplies and food are most needed.  She says parts of the old island will have to be completely rebuilt…but notes it could mean creating infrastructure designed for the 21st century.  She has also heard another bright spot, amid the overwhelming destruction.

“The landscape has been changed as a result of the storm.  But the day after the storm, people got up, they broke themselves up into working brigades, and gave each other assignments, and went off to start to clear the roads in anticipation of help from the local and state governments.”

Assistance is also being considered form the federal government.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand warned many people have no food, water or power…and are in dire circumstances.

“If we don’t give them the help they need now, then many more people there will die.  Congress must act fast to prevent the situation there from deteriorating even further.  Congress must ensure that funding is provided to send down every available resource and help them clean up and recover.”

She says the damage and human suffering there from Hurricane Maria are worse than impacts from Harvey in Houston and Irma in Florida.  Gillibrand pledges to fight for aid in Congress.

Gonzales, meanwhile, would like to head to the island herself to help family recover, but knows right now, emergency and relief personnel are the only ones who can go.  She also notes some might leave Puerto Rico, after being hit by two hurricanes amid the country’s existing financial struggles.  You can learn more about relief efforts and how to help at N-Y-dot-GOV … by clicking the Puerto Rico link.