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Relief Effort Plan "Desperately Needed" In Puerto Rico, Say Connecticut Advocates

Oct 2, 2017

Many Puerto Ricans in Connecticut have been collecting supplies for the island in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. But getting those supplies to where they’re needed remains very difficult.

The situation in Puerto Rico continues to be dire. Most cell sites are out of service, 90 percent of electric transmission is damaged and only 9 out of 52 wastewater treatment plants are operational.

But the distribution of supplies remains a significant challenge according to Joe Rodriguez from the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda.

“What’s desperately needed right now is a plan,” said Rodriguez. “Execution. The fact that resources are on the ground at ports and in the capital but can’t be distributed to some of the hardest hit towns is unacceptable. We need a plan. We need distribution, which is not happening.”

Rodriguez joined other local leaders at St. Francis Church in New Haven along with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who’s been critical of the Trump administration's response. DeLauro said they are monitoring relief efforts and pushing the White House for additional resources including helicopters.

Victoria Colon just returned from Puerto Rico after traveling to visit family there. She told DeLauro the conditions are horrible.

“The help isn’t getting there like they need it,” Colon said. 

New Haven community members raised $63,000 over the weekend with a goal of $100,000 in total. State Representative Juan Candelaria said the people of Puerto Rico need help.

“They’ve lost everything,” Candelaria said. "From their homes. From their vehicles. Lives have been shattered and now we are in rebuilding mode.”

Connecticut is home to about 250,000 residents with Puerto Rican roots.

This story is part of “The Island Next Door,” WNPR’s reporting project about Puerto Rico and Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.