Hurricane Fiona

Travelers Describe Fiona's Impact on Puerto Rico as Relief Efforts Ramp Up

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There is a scramble to restore power in Puerto Rico and scope out the damage left behind by Hurricane Fiona.

Adding to this painful time is the fact the island still has not fully recovered from Hurricane Maria which struck exactly five years ago on Tuesday.

As flights resumed out of San Juan, passengers left behind an island that could take a while to recover and relief workers in our state say they are ready to help.

“It was torrential rains, ferocious winds. It was actually pretty scary,” said Nilza Santana of Wethersfield.

Santana was among the travelers flying to Bradley International Airport from San Juan Monday evening. She rode out Hurricane Fiona with family in the southern part of Puerto Rico.

“It was traumatizing. A lot of flooding. There was this bridge where the river just took it. It was bad. It was really bad,” Santana said.

Among the groups taking part in the response is the Hispanic Federation. Its Vice President of Policy and Strategic Engagement Ingrid Alvarez is based in Hartford.

“We have families and communities still living under blue tarps since the devastation of Hurricane Maria,” Alvarez said.

She said they help to get cash to organizations on the island, including to set up community kitchens and they assist those amid concerns about power outages.

“Before Fiona touched ground, the team in Puerto Rico had already started to distribute 11,000 plus solar lanterns across vulnerable communities,” Alvarez said.

Also joining the relief effort is Stamford-based Americares. It opened an office in San Juan following Hurricane Maria five years ago and once it’s safe to travel, staff will head to health care facilities in the hardest hit areas.

“We have medicines and medical supplies that we can send to those clinics to help resupply them from medicines they may have lost, as well as meeting the needs of patients who may have lost their medicines,” said Mariel Fonteyn, Americares U.S. emergency response director.

Americares said it expects its response to last at least a few months.

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