WNPR

Eagerly Awaiting Word From Family, New Englanders Prepare To Help Puerto Rico

Sep 21, 2017
Originally published on September 21, 2017 4:36 pm

Carmen Ocasio has a lot of family on Puerto Rico. She said Wednesday that she is not watching television or going on social media. She can't handle it. 

Her mother lives nearby, and has been the point the family point-person. 

"Every chance they get to call and to let us know that they're OK, they'll call my mother, because -- my mother -- she worries a lot," Ocasio said.

Ocasio lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Per capita, the city is home to the largest population of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States.

Ocasio said she thinks more members of her family will leave the island after Hurricane Maria.

"My aunt only has a little inky-dinky house, and every time there's a hurricane, that house is gone," she said.

The aunt's grandchildren live in Florida, so Ocasio said she thinks that's where she'll go.

Getting Help To Loved Ones

Nelson Roman is among those shocked to be coordinating relief efforts for the second time in two weeks.

"We just put out another all-call to our community," Roman, said. What we can focus on, he told them "is not clothes but water, toiletries, cleaning supplies, rakes and brooms, todas esas cosas," he said, which means all of those things.

Roman is a Holyoke city councilor and director of the community group Nueva Esparanza. He said he last spoke to his cousins in Puerto Rico very early Wednesday morning.

Even before Maria hit, he said, tens of thousands of people on the island were still without power from Hurricane Irma.

"The infrastructure of Puerto Rico's electrical grid is terrible," Roman said. "This is just going to be another hit, upon a hit."

And Roman added, hurricane season is not even over.

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