Houstonians ramp up humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans who call Houston home have started flocking back to the island to check on family and friends, but also to help; what they find when they get there is filling them with shock and even anger.

HOUSTON - Puerto Ricans who call Houston home have started flocking back to the island to check on family and friends, but also to help; what they find when they get there is filling them with shock and even anger.

"I don't even have words to express it," said Javier Ferrer.

Ferrer is President of Houston's Puerto Rican and Cuban Festival. He talked to us from the airport in San Juan at a loss explaining what he's witnessed the last 48 hours.

"There's no water, very limited food," said Ferrer.

He says people are desperate. Debris and damage everywhere. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. These are all American citizens he says, but it doesn't feel like the United States.

"I am sad," said Ferrer. "I'm going back to Houston and there are people that are thirsty and there are people that are dying on the entire island."

A few seconds after that, we lost our signal with Ferrer. It's a real life example of what the island is facing. A fraction of the population has power. A U.S. territory thrown back in time after Maria pushed through.

"In a blink of an eye, the island went back 100 years," said Dr. Ricardo Flores.

Flores, an oncologist with Texas Children's Hospital just got back from Puerto Rico. He and Ferrer worked together to help get donations to the island. Thanks to their efforts they flew 55,000 pounds of supplies from Houston last week and helped get them to the areas that need them most.

"It was a titanic effort that was not possible without the effort of Houston, Texas and many other people in Puerto Rico," said Flores.

Right now there are 250,000 pounds of supplies sitting in Houston warehouses ready to go to Puerto Rico. All they're waiting on is airplanes to get them there.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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