Groups in Waterbury plan to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona hits island

VIDEO: Groups in Waterbury plan to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona hits island
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:58 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) - As Hurricane Fiona’s destructive path continues into the Dominican Republic, many in Puerto Rico are still dealing with the hurricane’s wrath.

For locals with family still there, it’s been a rough couple of days.

Puerto Ricans are still reeling from when Hurricane Maria hit.

Monday is the five-year anniversary when Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico.

As painful as it is to see, some are quick to act, wanting to help as quickly as possible.

More than 1600 miles away, Pedro Ocasio has been watching Hurricane Fiona destroy his home.

It took days for him to get ahold of family there.

“Finally this morning, we’re able to get through. I guess everybody was trying to call at the same time,” Ocasio said.

Ocasio’s family has owned La Borinqueña Restaurant for the last 20 years. It’s a Waterbury go-to for Puerto Rican cuisine.

The worst thing about this, he said, is knowing the island still isn’t fully recovered from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“It’s been a lot of nervousness because you figure, they just went through a storm like what is it, five years ago? And believe it or not, there’s people down there in Puerto Rico still with tarps on the roof,” said Ocasio. “They still haven’t picked up the pieces from the last storm, and now they gotta deal with it all over again.”

In Waterbury there’s already efforts going to help.

Rafael Roman, the chair of the Puerto Rican Parade and Fest Committee, made some quick changes to their website this morning, linking to three nonprofits that helped Puerto Rico when Maria hit.

It shows where people could help donate money as plans for other donations are still in the works.

“We saw during Maria, the last time as a community, a lot of our infrastructure wasn’t there. Both as far as support and help to the island immediately, so this time we learned. We sprang into action right away, a lot of us, I have family in Guanica, which is in the southern part of the island, it really got hit hard yesterday,” said Roman.

As devastating as it all is, Ocasio knows his family, all of Puerto Rico, will make it out of this.

“The Puerto Rican community is a very united community, we always pull through, we always help each other out,” said Ocasio.

The Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury is meeting tomorrow to start planning to see how to help the situation in Puerto Rico.

For more information on the Waterbury Puerto Rican Day Parade & Festival, click here.

For more information on the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury, click here.