Lakeland man visits Puerto Rico to offer aid

Nate Hendricks said many of the areas he visited aren't getting the help they need.

A local man visiting Puerto Rico to help with relief efforts said much of the island still hasn’t gotten the help it needs.

Nate Hendricks, who is from Lakeland, helps run a free legal clinic on the island. He used satellite Wi-Fi to FaceTime 10News during a break from distributing supplies in smaller cities in the center of the island, such as Caguas.

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He said Caguas and other areas he’s visited still have widespread devastation.

“The biggest problem is that you’re seeing San Juan. San Juan, obviously being the biggest city, is getting a lot more power faster,” Hendricks said. “Up here, they're not seeing anything. They're not seeing government trucks. I have not seen one power truck. There are power lines down everywhere.”

Hendricks brought food, water and other supplies to people in that area. He had a hard time getting them on the plane in the first place.

“I showed up at the airport counter, and basically they told me I couldn't bring anything,” he explained.

TSA told him MREs were okay to pack in checked cases, but airline staff made him open 2,000 of them.

“Just at the airport while I was standing there, I saw at least 10 people turned away with generators that were trying to get them there to their families,” Hendricks said. “There's ability to get things here, but they're not letting it happen.”

He’s grateful he was able to get most of the supplies on the plane. The organization he’s with has more coming by ship.

“They are just so thankful to see everything that they can get,” he said. “They have no water they have no food, so anything they can get, they're happy to get. It's a little bit tear-jerking.”

Nate and his organization are accepting donations. He said all of the money is going directly to relief in those smaller areas that aren’t getting as much attention.