In October, WNPR told the story of an Avon-based writer and how she was raising money for plane tickets to help Puerto Rican evacuees. A New Britain native heard it. And then, she reached out to Carrie Firestone for help.
Annette Murphy’s aunt Sandra Rivera lived near Caguas in Puerto Rico. Murphy and her mother Ana hadn’t heard from Rivera three weeks after the storm. And with barely any airplane tickets available, it was hard to know what they could do to help.
“The earliest I think I could find was like mid-November but the prices for that were ridiculous,” Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Sandra Rivera said that the storm tormented her fifth-floor apartment in Caguas—and Puerto Rico at large—for what she said was 20 hours.
“But more, the wind,” Rivera said. “It was so strong and the roar of the storm, it was something terrifying. The doors were about to tear off the hinges. Well, it was a horrible thing.”
Rivera wanted help, but she didn’t want her sister to spend too much money to do it. She heard her sister and niece in Connecticut faced a cost of $700--for one ticket.
“I put my hands together and prayed to God that for me to leave would be less than $100,” Rivera said. “And I thank God!”
Then Murphy heard what Carrie Firestone was doing with her Facebook outreach project to fund travel for families needing to be reunited after the storm.
“Carrie looked into it,” Murphy said. “The whole time she’s like ‘we’ll just pay for it. It’s fine.’ And I’m like ‘are ya sure?”
Rivera flew from San Juan to Hartford on November 24, leaving behind two sons, a daughter, and three grandchildren. She said she’s happy now because her apartment was unlivable. Rivera hopes that when her family gets back on their feet, they’ll come up and visit.
As for Firestone and her community service project, as needs change, she’s moving away from providing plane tickets to evacuees with family in Connecticut. Instead, she recently fulfilled a goal to gather donations to make gift bags for all 218 Puerto Rican evacuee families now going to school in Hartford.