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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Puerto Rico could be without power for months after Hurricane Maria

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 12:14 PM

Puerto Rico will likely be in the dark for months after Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory.

NBC News reports San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz says the island is looking at "four to six months without electricity." Home to around 3.4 million American citizens, Puerto Rico is entirely without power, according to officials. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN that Puerto Rico's power grid is "a little bit old, mishandled and weak." Maria made landfall in Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday and has since continued its destructive path through the Caribbean as a Category 3 storm.

Aside from living with no electricity, Puerto Ricans are still dealing with the aftermaths of one of the strongest storms to hit the island in over 100 years. The National Weather Service has declared a flash-flood warning for the entire territory on Thursday morning, while Maria's formidable winds and downpour demolished buildings and houses. NBC News reports extreme flooding has made streets across the island impassable. President Donald Trump has declared Puerto Rico a major disaster and ordered federal assistance for the colony.

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, says in a statement he spoke directly to Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen about gathering support for Puerto Rico in the FEMA supplemental package during a Jacksonville visit. Soto says he will be part of a letter to the federal Department of Homeland Security requesting additional support to ensure Puerto Rico has sufficient funding.

"In the short term, we need to make sure that FEMA is prepared to address the island’s immediate needs, such as supplying food, water, and medical supplies to all citizens," Soto says. "We also need to provide support in repairing the electrical grid so that it is up and running as soon as possible."

For the Puerto Rican diaspora in Orlando who can't communicate with their loved ones on the island, there are several ways to find information. The Orlando Sentinel reports the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington D.C. is encouraging people to call 202-778-0710 to check on family and friends. There's also a Facebook group called Puerto Rico Maria Updates where people can find information about those on the island and a Google spreadsheet called Resumen de Pueblos that gives detailed information on whether a town has electricity and if its residents can communicate.

Remezcla has put together a list of Puerto Rican and New York organizations helping in the relief efforts for the island after Hurricane Maria, which you can see here. Locally, there are a couple efforts underway to help Puerto Ricans. Coordinadora de Apoyo, Solidaridad y Ayuda, also known as CASA, has set up several places across Central Florida where people can donate items, including branches of the Harbor Community Bank and Acacia's El Centro Borinqueño, 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando. CASA is asking for the following supplies:

- Bottled water
- Pajamas for all ages
- Towels
- Hygiene items, including soap, deodorant, tooth paste, tooth brush, menstrual pads, adult diapers.
- Baby wipes, diapers and formula
- Pet food
- First-aid kits and medicine
- Sleeping bags, cots, blankets, tents and canopies
- Construction materials
- Cooking pots, cups and cutlery.

CASA is also holding a blood drive at El Centro Borinqueño for hurricane victims on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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