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WNY groups supporting recovery efforts for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona

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Posted at 5:57 PM, Sep 27, 2022

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some organizers are making ways to support recovery efforts for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona.

Many say the island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, but now Hurricane Fiona has left a devastating mark.

Acacia Network is one of the organizations helping people on the island rebuild both physically and mentally.

"There were communities that had a year and even two years without electricity," says Angel Santini, Vice President of a special agent of Acacia Network. "And it was a tragedy that now it's bringing back the trauma and this is affecting the mental health."

Angel Santini has been on the ground in Puerto Rico for a few days.

He's part of "Acacia Network," an organization that addresses challenges in Puerto Rico.

Santini says he can see the mental toll these storms are directly having on people in Puerto Rico.

"You see the face—the frustration. You see the face of the hunger," he says. "There's no electricity and you know the heat here in Puerto Rico so you just need to see the face and just with that you know the answer."

Santini says he's in Caguas, up north in Puerto Rico, with his team delivering supplies to those in need.

But, of course, supplies are running low.

"And if you can imagine that after ten days in a tropical climate," says Charles Torres, President of Puerto Rican Hispanic Day Parade of Western New York. "People in hospitals and people with breathing disorders and other needs of medical devices."

The President of Puerto Rican Hispanic Day Parade of Western New York tells 7 News he's meeting with other local groups to help meet the need.

Torres says 60 percent of people in Puerto Rico are without electricity.

"We did speak to some of the troopers that haven been taken to the island and they spoke about no electricity on the roads," Torres says.

But why hasn't there been any investment in infrastructure?

"There's a lot of infrastructure that still has not been brought back up to standards and basically this hurricane just knocked all of that hard work back down," he says.

Meantime, Angel Santini will be making his way to Ponce and other parts of Southern Puerto Rico.

"We just want to help our community and our people in Puerto Rico," Santini says.

Click here if interested in donating to Acacia Network.

Other organizers in Buffalo are coming up with ways to finalize where you can donate.

7 News will be sure to provide those details once it becomes available.