Locals come together to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It has been almost three weeks since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and people on the island are still in desperate need of supplies.

The country’s governor asked Congress for more aid, calling the aftermath an “unprecedented catastrophe.”

Locally, several organizations have stepped up to help out, including the EMF Outreach Thrift Store in Austintown. The store serves as a collection site for items to help Puerto Ricans.

Juan Rivera, a commissioner for the Ohio Commission for Hispanic Latino Affairs, said many people have already donated to the cause.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “You know, the Youngstown area, we’re tough. We’re resilient, and we come together in times of crisis.”

“It’s been tremendous, you know. Whenever you see disasters such as this in Puerto Rico, it brings the good out of people you’ve not seen in awhile,” said Rolando Rojas, pastor of Spanish Evangelical Church.

EMF Thrift Store is just one of a few drop-off sites in the area.

In the back of the shop, dozens of boxes are stacked on top of one another. There’s about six full palettes of water and a lot of canned goods and baby supplies.

Rivera said he is working with FEMA, the National Guard and the Puerto Rican government to get all these supplies to Puerto Rico soon.

“The week of October 15, so that week, we’re hoping to get some of the semi trucks to come in, pick up these items and get these items to Puerto Rico as soon as possible,” he said.

Rivera said he has spoken with all of his family members in Puerto Rico, and they say they still need help there.

“The communication is, ‘We’re running out of food, running out of water,’ so those are the major concerns,” he said. “It’s worse than what you see on TV. They’re hanging in there, but they need help.”

If you’d like to help, the following drop-off sites are still taking donations until the end of October:

  • The Outreach Center: 1733 South Raccoon Rd., Austintown
  • Papa’s Puerto Rican Cuisine: 284 12th St., Campbell
  • Second Harvest Food Bank: 2805 Salt Springs Rd., Youngstown
  • Loving Touch Ministries: 1547 Oak St., Youngstown (10 a.m to 6 p.m. every day)
  • Phantom Fireworks of Boardman: 9400 Market St., North Lima

If you just want to give money, Rivera asks that you donate to Convoy of Hope.