BUFFALO, N.Y. – Western New York Puerto Rican community is rallying to help their own.
Most Puerto Ricans in Buffalo have family on the island and are already working on ways to send money and supplies.
Wednesday night was a call to action.
"We’ve got to get a meeting, we’ve got to help our family, our friends, our island,” said Chito Olivencia, who started making calls as early as 6 a.m.
His goal at Wednesday evening’s meeting was to listen to concerns and share ideas about how to help.
Among the top concerns were people who can’t reach family due to a power outage that spans the entire island.
"Between this morning, this afternoon, and this evening, a lot of voices were silenced,” said one man, noting that social media has not been updated from those in Puerto Rico.
Everybody agreed money, water, and food were top priorities.
"I have seen pictures of it, and you can only see inches of a car, that's how flooded they are,” a woman said.
By the end of the meeting, the Puerto Rican Hispanic Day Association had pledged $1,000 dollars.
"This is a time of need for our patrons over there in the island, and we just want to let them know that we're here, whatever you need we're here, we're here to help you out,” said Erika Espinosa.
"We're going to have major, major damage in Puerto Rico,” said Geno Russi, director of Hispanics United of Buffalo.
That’s why the Buffalo community vows to help however they can.
"This is important because it brings the community together. Because we left the island, that doesn't mean we're not Puerto Ricans,” said Russi. “We're Puerto Ricans here, living here, but our hearts are still there, our families are still there.”
By the end of the meeting, the group decided to set up a local bank account where donated money is safe, and from there, they'll determine where the need is greatest.
Those who have not heard from family in Puerto Rico can call (202) 778-0710 for U.S. assistance.
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