Hurricanes

Raleigh man worried about lack of supplies, communication in native Puerto Rico

Posted September 27, 2017 10:19 p.m. EDT

— Wednesday marks one week since Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico and nearly half the population is still without drinking water and many are worried about what could become a public health crisis in a U.S. territory.

Jorge Santana and his brothers, who have relatives on the island, are worried about conditions, including the continued lack of cell phone service, which is hampering relief efforts in some areas.

Puerto Rico remains an island of more than 3 million people in crisis, with a hurricane-ravaged infrastructure and virtually no means of communication.

“Not only me talking to my brother, but the mayor of my hometown, which is the second largest city in Puerto Rico, couldn’t talk to the governor,” Santana said.

Santana lives in Raleigh, but his family’s roots are in Ponce, in the southern part of Puerto Rico. His brother still lives in Ponce, but his mother and sister live in San Juan. He said his family is OK, but he is concerned about the entire island.

Santana has taken to social media to get the word out about how much help is needed in Puerto Rico.

He said that while more supplies are coming in, the problem is in the distribution of the supplies to people who really need them.

“Some people have more resources and they help themselves more because they have power generators with diesel and food and water and others don’t,” Santana said.

Santana regularly posts information about relief efforts and other resources on social media. His goal is to generate as much assistance as possible.

“You have to have a flow of things. You can’t stand back, so every single help is needed,” he said.

The situation in the U.S. Virgin Islands is just as dire as in Puerto Rico.

WRAL has learned that additional Fort Bragg troops are scheduled to arrive in St. Thomas on Thursday. The 247th Composite Supply Company will help the 602nd Area Support Medical Company, which arrived on the island after Hurricane Irma, with food water and fuel.