Some Detroiters Frantically Searching For Relatives in Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

“Roads are gone, communities gone.”

Jake Neher/WDET

Many people across the United States are frantically trying to get information about loved ones living in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico, leaving residents with no power or cell service, making it very difficult to let family and friends know they’re okay.

There is massive flooding and buildings destroyed, and reports of limited food and fresh water. There have been numerous cries from officials in Puerto Rico for aid from the United States government, and soon.

U.S. officials were quick to jump on relief for Houston and parts of Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

But there has been a slow response from the White House and federal government when it comes to this territory of the United States, an island whose residents are American citizens, and whose fiscal crisis before the hurricane was dire.

Detroit resident JJ Velez has friends and family living in Puerto Rico. He says he spoke with many of them before the storm hit as they prepared for Maria after a side-swipe from Hurricane Irma.

“All of the sudden realizing Maria was right behind, they had to once again prepare for another hurricane,” says Velez.  “Collecting water, canned goods, boarding up houses, preparing for Maria.”

“Since then there’s no communication from anyone on the island,” says Velez.

There have been widespread reports since the storm of complete power-outages across the island, and no way for residents to communicate with the outside world.

Velez says he and his family members on the mainland are scouring Facebook and social media for signs that their loved ones in Puerto Rico are alright. But he says so far all they see are pictures of mass destruction.

“Roads are gone, communities gone.” 

A Puerto Rican restaurant in Detroit, Rincon Tropical, is gathering donations for the relief effort. You can check out more information on their Facebook page here.

To hear more from Velez on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.


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