Puerto Ricans living in Reno react to impact of Hurricane Fiona

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 11:33 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Nine days after hurricane Fiona, hundreds of thousands in Puerto Rico continue to struggle.

Five years ago, Maria killed thousands and caused the longest blackout in U.S history. Now the island--still recovering from that--is dealing with the aftermath of Fiona.

As of Tuesday, when most eyes are on hurricane Ian, more than 370,000 customers on the island are without electricity, according to poweroutage.us.

Puerto Ricans living in Reno, many of whom still have family on the island, are keeping a close eye on the impact it left behind.

Ricardo Rivera is one of the lucky ones. His parents and sister are still in Puerto Rico and despite the power outages and flooding, he was still able to communicate.

“It didn’t knock telephone lines,” said Rivera in Spanish.

He explained his sister, who lives in Ponce, was without power for about five days.

However, in the aftermath of Maria, those who can afford it are relying on solar panels and generators.

“It (the generator) wasn’t a super strong one. They would turn it on for certain things, like turn on a fan at night,” said Rivera.

Aside from the lack of electricity, others like Henedina Tollerstad’s family are also experiencing a lack of water.

“There’s a street that has electricity and water, the next street, the next block, no electricity and water then when they get water and electricity, the other go without electricity and water,” she said.

Both Rivera and Tollerstad are hurting for their homeland and say the power grid’s unreliability is due to poor management and under-investment.

“People are desperate,” said Tollerstad. “It’s been five years since Maria and they’re still working on that.”

“It’s sad because after every hurricane there’s a wave of people who leave Puerto Rico,” said Rivera. “Doctors, nurses, professionals.”

If you would like to help families during recovery, here’s a list of organizations seeking assistance:

Taller Salud, the women-led nonprofit is accepting donations of items such as nonperishable food, adult and baby diapers, gallons of water, toiletries and more. The nonprofit is also accepting monetary donations via PayPal or on its website.

Global Giving, supports and connects other nonprofits with donors, has launched the “Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund” — aiming to raise $1 million to help residents on the island and other communities across the Caribbean.

According to their website, funds raised will help with immediate needs for food, shelter, fuel, clean water and hygiene products.

La Fondita de Jesús, many unhoused in Puerto Rico rely on this organization for food, hygiene services, and job placement, and their need is sure to be greater in the wake of Fiona. You can donate here.

World Central Kitchen, according to its website, WCK is first on the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises. We build resilient food systems with locally-led solutions. To donate, go to: https://wck.org/