With the island's electrical grid completely destroyed and its crops almost totally decimated, Puerto Rico is absolutely reeling from last week's landfall of Hurricane Maria. “There will be no food in Puerto Rico,” plantain farmer Jose Rivera told the New York Times
. “There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won’t be any for a year or longer.”
Puerto Rico is, of course, an unincorporated U.S. territory, and countless families have moved from the island to the U.S. mainland, including Northeast Ohio. The steel mills in Lorain and the National Tubing Company, in particular, recruited thousands of Puerto Rican workers in the 1940s and 1950s. For decades, those families have called Lorain home, even as their hearts remain tied forever to Puerto Rico.
Now, in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, Lorain residents are turning their attention fully to the island and gathering goods to send by boat. A truck will pick up items in Lorain later this week and continue on to the Caribbean Sea. In the meantime, the effects of hurricane damage are still being felt across the island
“I don’t know how much worse it could get,” Councilman Angel Arroyo told the Chronicle-Telegram
, which first reported on the efforts during coverage of Saturday's El Centro block party. “If you go to personal friends’ Facebook pages, you see cars that are flipped over; you’re seeing gas stations that are washed away; you’re seeing water that is four or five feet high; you’re seeing pickup trucks with water at the top of the pickup truck; there are areas that have flooded."
Items that are needed include: batteries, crank generators, emergency radios, hygiene kits, non-perishable foods, flashlights, baby diapers, adult diapers, water, toiletries and women's health supplies.
Drop-off sites for items in Lorain include: Sacred Heart Chapel, 4301 Pearl Ave., from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; Puerto Rican Home, 1603 E. 28th St. from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and El Borimex Bar and Grill, 1910 E. 28th St., from noon to 10 p.m.
Sacred Heart will host a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27.