Wednesday night, Puerto Rico’s governor instituted a 6 p.m. curfew as the battered island tries to pick up the pieces from the devastating Hurricane Maria.
All day, thousands of people have been anxiously waiting and asking for help trying to contact loved ones. WTSP is trying to get you all of the latest information.
We reached out to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, which represents the local government of Puerto Rico in Washington D.C.
Wednesday, their officers became a disaster communication hub.
Phones rang off the hook as family members in the states were trying to find out anything about their loved ones. Close to 2 p.m. Wednesday, the entire island of Puerto Rico went dark.
Marilu Mayorga was one of the D.C. volunteers. She cried as she told WTSP, “It’s hard because I just want to be home. Puerto Rico is where I serve.”
That shock goes from DC to right here to our Florida offices. Watching her story air, reporter Bianca Graulau is one several reporters with family on the island. She spent all day waiting to hear from her parents and cousins.
“I talked to them the night before and I knew they were safe where they had to be – where they were going to ride out the storm but not being able to hear from them all day, it’s tough. You always want to just at least hear they’re going to be okay,” said Graulau.
“Right now we’re just working on community building,” said Mayorga.
The volunteers at PRFAA are taking names hoping to connect loved ones socially. We’re told those with questions can either call or email the Administration’s office.
PFRAA: (202) 800-3133 or (202) 800-3134, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
If your loved one needs emergency assistance, you can alert the U.S. State Department at this address or call 1-(800) 407-4747 (U.S. & Canada) or +1-(202) 501-4444 (from overseas)
Hurricane Maria struck the U.S. territory of around 3.4 million Americans as a Category 4 hurricane, the largest storm to reportedly hit Puerto Rico head-on since the 1930s.
“Being able to transport these items to the Island, it’s going to be another challenge because right now, the coast guard is going to several rules on when assistance or any kind of relief effort can be brought in,” Mayorga told WTSP.
Water, food, sanitary items, even wood – the D.C. office is working now on coordinating much-needed donations from across the United States.
“Even if you are an American on the mainland, Puerto Rico is also your island and we are also your people,” added the volunteer.
PRFAA along with the Red Cross is also accepting cash donations. FEMA also has a list of trusted organizations that you can donate to, to help provide disaster relief.
Puerto Rico served as safe-haven to the refugees slammed by Irma in the US. Virgin Islands and Caribbean, which also got slammed again. First responders were unable to reach certain islands right after the storm, it was that unsafe.
FEMA is allowing people to register for alerts there through vialert.gov.
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