Pedro Juan Garcia Figueroa came up to Bridgeport from Puerto Rico on November 17. He wanted to thank the city for the nearly 200,000 pounds worth of supplies it collected during an event on October 1 -- a telethon organized by CTBPT United for PR.
Garcia Figueroa is the mayor of Hormigueros, a western Puerto Rican town. That 200,000 pounds of supplies made seven tractor-trailer loads -- five of them went to Hormigueros.
“Not just to Hormigueros. We gave it to Aibonito, San German, Cabo Rajo,” Garcia Figueroa said.
In all, nine towns benefited from this haul. Garcia Figueroa didn’t know Lisette Colon before Hurricane Maria. Colon’s day job is human resource recruiter for the Bridgeport Board of Education. She’s the face of CTBPT United for PR, a community relief effort that spawned after the storm.
And she went down to Puerto Rico to make sure the goods got there.
“This lady over here, Lissette Colon, we made what we call a ‘servi car’ to give them water and to give them food,” Garcia Figueroa said. “She was there with us doing it.”
A “servi car” is like a drive through station where people can go to pick-up goods. In this case, the supplies were taken off the tractor trailer and organized assembly line-style by item-type.
Colon showed a video of what she saw on her trip driving southwest from the airport in San Juan to Hormigueros.
“Devastation,” Colon said. “And then maybe you could find one or two houses and then more devastation.”
The video shows a pink house in Naranjito split in two -- one half tumbled down a cliff. Then there was a still shot of a stadium in Hormigueros. Wind was so bad that it stripped off some of the stadium’s façade.
“That’s how massive it was and that’s solid stone cement,” Colon said.
Colon said she’s been deeply affected by her journey.
“It was life-changing,” Colon said. “I’m no longer that same person that left here.”
According to the mayor, power has been restored in his town with 90 percent of the residents having running water. But Garcia Figueroa said it would still be about six months before things were relatively normal in Hormigueros.