Shortages plague Puerto Rico after Maria

Locals mobilize to send supplies while U.S. response seen lagging

By Karen Morales | 9/28/2017, 6 a.m.
Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico as a category 4 with winds of 155 miles per ...
Staff of La Fabrica Central restaurant and volunteers loaded three trucks with water, non-perishable food and other needed supplies for victims of hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo: Courtesy of La Fabrica Central

“It’s really wearing on people,” Rivera said of the crisis. “People are trying to stay optimistic, but it’s been over a week and people aren’t getting the help they need.”

Various response efforts have sprung up in Boston from grassroots groups, government agencies and non-profits. IBA planned to hold a meeting to coordinate local efforts, donations and supplies on Sept. 26, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at 85 West Newton Street in the South End.

“The meeting will be a way to channel efforts to support Puerto Rico,” said Calderon-Rosado. “I’m hoping to hear any good ideas people may have and that they will come with the spirit of collaboration.”

In Cambridge Sunday, the owners of La Fábrica Central restaurant organized a relief drive, sending three truckloads of bottled water, food, diapers, baby formula, toiletries and other needed items to Lawrence, where they were to be shipped to the island.

“It was a great expression of solidarity with Puerto Rico,” said La Fábrica co-owner Dennis Benzan, whose mother is from the town of Coamo. “We had graduate students from Harvard and MIT who are from Puerto Rico helping out, people who work in biotech, a lot of Cambridge residents. It was very moving.”

The U.S. Postal Service is not currently operating locally in Puerto Rico, so for now, mass shipments like the one organized by the city of Lawrence may be the best way to get aid to the island.

Yawu Miller contributed to this story