A humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico could soon mean many visitors to our city. The Ibero American Action League is asking Rochester to make room for families from the hurricane-ravaged island.
A humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico could soon mean many visitors to our city.
The Ibero American Action League is asking Rochester to make room for families from the hurricane-ravaged island.
The agency expects an influx of people as relatives work to get their loved ones off the island. It could take months before things in Puerto Rico are back to normal.
But, right now, getting a flight out of Puerto Rico is a big challenge. We spoke with one father who's hoping and praying his family will make it out.
Rochester could become home for Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricanes
"They’re living in the house, the house that we’ve always lived there," says Julio Velez, through an interpreter. "We’ve lived there for years, but the house had lots of damage and I want to bring them here."
Julio Velez left his family in Puerto Rico back in August with the plan of paving the way for his wife, his two daughters and a nephew to join him here in Rochester. Hurricane Maria interrupted their plans. His family was supposed to leave the island on Wednesday, but they lost their seats on the plane.
"We don’t have any water, any electricity, any gas, any food, no cash," he says. "We don’t have any gas to travel, it’s bad. The situation is really bad."
These are pictures of the family’s home. It’s not the damage to the house so much as it’s not having the basic necessities of life and hardly any way to communicate. It will be ten days before the family has any chance of getting on another plane.
"I’m really worried because I don’t know what they will do in that week without those necessities," said Velez.
"Imagine what it might be like to be in those condition where you don’t have food, you don’t have running water, you don’t have electricity, you’re trying to figure out where that next meal is coming from and if you have a baby how are you going to take care of that baby," said Tricia Cruz Irving, Ibero American Action League.
Tricia Cruz Irving is the director of development and communications for the Ibero American Action League. She says a number of Rochesterians are working to get their family members out of Puerto Rico and here to Rochester. She says Ibero is thankful for the community’s support so far, but stresses the need has not ended.
"The people over there, they’re desperate because of the storm and the situation that they’re in," she says. "For us over here, we’re desperate in our situation because our hands are tied. We can’t do anything for them."