Puerto Ricans in New York vow to help island nation with hurricane recovery

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NEW YORK — More than 1 million Puerto Ricans call New York state home.

On Sunday night, many of them were waiting for word from their loved ones and mobilizing to help following the devastation from Hurricane Fiona, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reports.

CBS2’s Kevin Rincon spoke to New Yorkers with ties to the island.

The strong winds associated with the storm have caused power outages almost a day before landfall. Some of the outages were reported before the storm even made landfall.

READ MORE: Hurricane Fiona lashes Puerto Rico, knocks out power to entire island

Right now, the entire island is in the dark and many of the gains made five years after Hurricane Maria have been washed away.

“We need help. Let us not forget. Don’t forget all of those Puerto Ricans who are there who today need us,” said Jenyffer Ortiz of the Bronx, a Hurricane Maria evacuee.

Ortiz left Puerto Rico after Maria. Her hometown has been left in ruins by Fiona and the worst of it isn’t over yet.

“I have family, I have friends, and it’s hard. It’s hard to re-live everything that’s happening,” Ortiz said.

The storm washed away a bridge in a central mountain town not far from where her family is right now. The fast-moving water created dangerous conditions, while the winds left the electric grid offline.

Back here at home, Surey Miranda works with the nonprofit Diaspora for Puerto Rico.

“One of the things that we want to make sure is that we create visibility about the lack of infrastructure,” Miranda said.

She added what is different this time around is that people still have access to the internet, which is a big help. They’re already thinking about donations.

“Making sure that we get solar batteries, items that can be helpful to keep people communicating,” Miranda said.

City Councilmember Marjorie Velazquez, one of the many Puerto Rican lawmakers in the city, has family on the island. She said help needs to come quicker than it did after Maria.

“This didn’t work out last time, so we understand that challenge. So we’re here as New Yorkers. As New York state, New York City teamed up last time, we’re going to do the same this time,” Velazquez said.

She says once the storm is over, there needs to be accountability.

“The power authority, LUMA, has not done its fair share in helping Puerto Rico have power,” Velazquez said.

Flooding will be a concern in the days ahead. One of the things many people in New York and on Puerto Rico are asking is what will happen when a bigger storm hits.

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