Donation drive launched for Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico

Statewide donation drive launched for Puerto Rico

NEW ORLEANS, La. - In Puerto Rico, thousands of shipping containers full of food, water and medicine have been sitting at the island's major port since Saturday. It's enough for half a million people, but officials can't get anyone to deliver it. Across the island, people have waited in line for days to get fuel, and the cash to pay for it.

FEMA and the U.S. Navy are making some progress delivering supplies, but with 3.5 million people in Puerto Rico, the need for help is widespread. Governor John Bel Edwards is answering those calls for help with a statewide donation drive. For the next two weeks, people in any parish will be able to go to select local fire departments to drop things off like diapers, non-perishable baby formula and baby bottles.

The devastation in Puerto Rico has captured people's attention.

"Images of total devastation," said Blaine Merker. "All vegetation stripped away and a lot of people asking for help."

"The things that affect me are seeing the houses that are completely destroyed," said Allison Regis. "That's peoples' lives and it's gone and I can't imagine what that'd be like."

In New Orleans, it brings memories of the past.

"I lost my house in Hurricane Katrina so I know how it is," said Thomas Bludsaw. "I know how they feel and what they're going through."

Eyewitness News tried to reach out to one Puerto Rican resident currently on the island. However, with spotty service, he was only able to be reached briefly through text. He wrote, "A big problem right now is communication" and adds they need more help with restoring it and getting other necessities.

"These are Americans and they need the whole country to come to their aid right away," said Merker. "I don't know what everyone is waiting for."

Louisiana is looking to help those in Puerto Rico by hosting a statewide donation drive from now until Wednesday October 11th. It was announced Wednesday in a YouTube video posted by Governor John Bel Edwards. He announced all parishes will participate and only specific items are needed.

Aaron Miller, the Director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says that includes supplies for babies and infants, as well as feminine hygiene products. They're all items he says are in high demand.

"We know in times like this, the communities come together to assist each other," he said. "We've been the recipient of that good fortune several times and we want to pass that along and help out the residents in Puerto Rico."

People are encouraged to donate because while it is a small act, it's one many believe will go a long way.

"I hope it gets better for everyone," said Regis. "It'll take a long time but hopefully everyone can rebuild and I hope for the best for everyone there."

"They're our country's men and women," said Merker. "This is our duty when anything happens we need to come to people's aid and they got hit especially hard."

According to Miller, Governor Edwards has arranged transportation for donations through the Louisiana National Guard. The donation drop-off sites are at local fire stations, which Miller says he's incredibly thankful for. There will be at least two donation pick ups, one on October 4th and the final one on October 11th. For a list of specific items and locations click here.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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