Montgomery County effort aids hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

September 30, 2017 11:37 PM

AMSTERDAM -- Volunteers and members of the local Puerto Rican community in Amsterdam spent much of Saturday packing and loading aid such as water, food and other resources onto trucks at Denise Diaz’s home.

By the early evening it was ready to be shipped to hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico. 

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“I counted over 21-thousand bottles of water and tons of canned food, baby food, clothing, toiletries, personal hygiene stuff,” Diaz said. 

Diaz said the effort began as a Facebook message she posted last week asking for donations for her family's homeland. 

“It breaks my heart it absolutely breaks my heart,” she said.  

Within days, her Pulaski Street home was filled with resources from stores including, Walmart and Target as well as aid from strangers and neighbors.

“The donations just kept coming and coming and it just it touched my heart and it means everything to me that we've come together the way we have,” Diaz said. 

“By the end of the day Saturday, volunteers loaded three flatbeds as well as a box truck. 

The relief will eventually be taken to an army base in Westchester County and – later – to JFK airport before being flown out to Puerto Rico.

“My role is to fill up five tractor trailers and there was three or four drop off points throughout the 518 area,” “Rafael Nieves said.  

Nieves is helping to transport this goods on his tow trucks. 

An image of his 20 year old son, who was killed while fighting in Afghanistan, is painted on the side of the tow truck he’ll be driving. 

Like several others helping with the cause Saturday, Elizabeth Diaz - Denise's wife - is among several people helping with the cause who has relatives in Puerto Rico that haven’t been heard from since before the storm hit.

“I have two sisters that are unaccounted for and I have a brother also that is unaccounted for,” she said. 

“I have family up there,” Nieves said. “My mother and father I have not heard from in 10 days.”

However, they continue to help in whatever way they can. 

“I know we can do very little but very little to them right now is a lot,” Diaz said.  

Organizers hope to start transporting the aid downstate this week.

They plan to continue collecting donations until the island gets back on its feet.


WNYT Staff

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