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'I've been able to...make a difference:' Tampa Bay woman steps up after Maria, now Fiona

It’s been five years since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico.

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida and Tampa Bay became a safe haven for families in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Now, as they deal with the devastation of Hurricane Fiona, one woman is once again stepping up in a big way.

Jeannie Calderin founded Somos Puerto Rico Tampa in 2017 after Maria.

“I have been able to touch so many lives, helped so many people and make a difference that words cannot describe how rewarding that is,” Calderin said.

The damage was so bad, many Puerto Ricans decided to leave the island for good. Many sought refuge in Florida.

She helped families, who moved to the Tampa Bay area, find housing and get the supplies they need. She even went on to help build a temporary school on the island after the earthquakes in 2020.

While much of her work more recently has focused on helping elderly people navigate the language barrier, now she’s back in the thick of it helping those impacted by Hurricane Fiona.

RELATED: Biden visits Puerto Rico in wake of Hurricane Fiona

"Right now, what I have done is I created a GoFundMe where I'm going to be collecting money. Instead of bringing donations, we're going to be buying these things, like lanterns and flashlights and repellent. We'll buy these products and have them shipped directly to Puerto Rico," Calderin said.

She says although her organization may be small, they’re making a big impact.

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