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Puerto Rico still in need of aid


With almost half of Puerto Rico still without power, the American Red Cross is still providing relief.

Western and Central New York Communications Officer Jay Bonafede said they’ve helped serve more than 8.5 million meals and snacks across Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. 4 million relief items like clean-up kits or tarps have also been distributed, but Bonafede wants people to remember volunteers are needed to help evacuees who have come to Western New York.

“In Rochester, where they have a large Puerto Rican population and a much larger influx of volunteers,” said Bonafede, “we’ve worked with the city of Rochester and other partners to set up what we call a MARC or a Multi-Agency Resource Center, where once a week there’s a number of agencies that can provide support. That come together.”

Almost half of Puerto Rico is still without power. Many politicians took to twitter this holiday weekend calling for Congress to provide more funding. More than 60 volunteers from Western and Central New York have traveled this past year to provide aid to hurricane damaged areas.

“Talking to one of the volunteers from our region who did go down about a woman who just basically broke down when they received a tarp from one of our volunteers,” said Bonafede, “because that tarp being able to cover their roof was going to allow their family to return home and start that rebuilding process.”

Bonafede said every disaster is different. Hurricane Maria landed as a Category 4 storm on September 20th. Parts of Puerto Rico are not expected to get power back until spring. Bonafede said it is still a relief operation in Puerto Rico.

“Making sure people have safe shelter. Have food and water. Have emotional support,”
 said Bonafede. “This is obviously a very traumatic experience to have health services provided for. Recovery is when they’ll begin the rebuilding process. The people who have been affected.”

The best way to help is to volunteer or give a financial donation. There’s a current need for translators. To sign up, go online to redcross.org.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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