Humboldt Park residents aim to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona devastation

CHICAGO (CBS) – Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic on Monday, leaving behind flooding and damage to streets.

Also in Puerto Rico, more than a million people are without electricity. Flooding is also catastrophic there after Fiona rammed the island over the weekend. The power could take days to repair.

Rescuers scramble to rescue hundreds of people trapped by rising waters.

CBS 2’s Marybel Gonzalez went to Humboldt Park where volunteers were already working on the rescue.

Many residents of the neighborhood have strong ties to Puerto Rico. They came together to strategize on how best to help an island still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which hit nearly five years ago.

“It’s awful. I see everyone is down today,” Vanessa Massas said of her neighborhood of Humboldt Park, which woke up less lively on Monday after many residents lost contact with loved ones on the island after the hurricane made landfall over the weekend.

“We don’t know yet how devastating it is,” Massas said. “We had like a little bits (of information).”

The Category 1 hurricane caused catastrophic flooding and an island-wide power outage, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, including Massas’ family.

“My daughter’s grandmother, she’s in the hospital. They don’t have running water or electricity,” Massas said. “She is stable at the moment. She had a stroke.”

It’s a waiting game to assess the damage and when power is restored, but like others, Massas is ready to send help from Chicago.

“We’re trying to figure out what we can do,” she said.

In 2017, she was among the Chicagoans who volunteered to send goods to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island working with community organizations like Chicago’s Puerto Rican Agenda to help people devastated by this storm.

“In Puerto Rico, we need to understand what lack of power is, what does it translate to? It means we’re not able to keep medications stored appropriately,” said Jessie Fuentes, co-chair. from Puerto Rican Diary. “That means we don’t have clean water. That means patients in hospitals that don’t have backup generators have to be transferred.”

The organization said it is ready to spring into action again as soon as leaders and organizers in Puerto Rico communicate what is needed.

“We are strategizing,” Fuentes said. “We don’t want to be a burden on Puerto Rico or send unnecessary items. We want to be able to do exactly what Puerto Ricans need.”

Five years ago, Chicagoans sent nearly half a million dollars in relief. On Tuesday, organizers expect to hear more about how people can help in the aftermath of this hurricane.


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