One local police officer is pitching in to help the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
Watertown Officer Rey Torres said he still has family in Puerto Rico. Torres added while they're OK, but he knows plenty are not. And that’s the reason why he wanted to help the people on the island.
"As soon as I saw some of those pictures, I said I have to help, I have to get there,” Torres said.
Torres said he knew exactly where to start.
"I wanted to do it the right away, didn't want to become a victim, grab the first plane flight with some supplies,” Torres said. “That wouldn't work."
Torres said he reached out to the American Red Cross and let them know he was willing to help any way he could.
After filling out an application and undergoing a field training course, Torres said he's ready to deploy to Puerto Rico to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
“We've gone over-sheltering, distribution of supplies, be it form a medical standpoint, obviously food,” Torres said. “But, it can also be just something as easy as driving a truck to get items from point A to point B or provide security if need be."
Torres, who's fluent in Spanish, has been on the force for seven-plus years. He'll be able to bring his experience and extensive training as an officer, along with a background in emergency medical services.
It’s also personal for him. He's from Puerto Rico. His parents and sister, along with aunts and uncles still live there.
"Their house is OK,” Torres said. “But just like everyone else, they're lacking electricity, running water."
Torres said he's so grateful to Watertown's police chief and the town manager, who both have given him the green light to go down with the Red Cross. Torres said he is hoping to make a difference for an island he knows so well.
"I have never done a relief mission and I'm excited,” Torres said. “But, also, optimistic that I can possibly help it will be life altering for me as well."
Torres said he's ready to go just waiting for the final word from the Red Cross on when he'll fly down there.
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