Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Locals Seek Support for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is in urgent need of assistance after being hit by two hurricanes. Submitted Photo

Puerto Rico is in urgent need of assistance after being hit by two hurricanes. Submitted Photo

For most Americans, their knowledge of Puerto Rico is limited to the beautiful beaches and hotels that dot the landscape of the tropical island, which lies 1,033 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. That beauty has been temporarily muted by not just one, but two direct hits by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, within weeks of each other.

According to islander Yvette Benarroch, wife of Al Benarroch, and owners of Affordable Landscaping Services on Marco, the small island paradise which was her home has been devastated from the two storms. Yvette Benarroch was born in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, where she lived until she moved to the United States 14 years ago after graduating from college, where she met her husband and was married. Al Benarroch came to the U.S. when he was 11 from Spain and grew up in the Chicago area before moving to Southwest Florida. They have two young boys and are very active in local community charities and affairs.

“The one storm (Hurricane Irma) was bad enough, but Maria was too much. The entire infrastructure of the island has been destroyed. So much is needed to help those most in distress, especially in the areas outside the resorts and cities. These people have nothing,” said Yvette.

As a result of the Spanish/American War in 1898 Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States, along with Guam, while transferring sovereignty over the Philippines to the United States for $20,000,000. In March of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act into law. This would make Puerto Rico a territory of the U.S. and granted Puerto Ricans U.S. statutory citizenship.

There is growing concern regarding the safety and health of the elderly, infirmed and children on the island. The floods, mudslides and resulting poor hygiene conditions may cost many lives, and fatality numbers are growing. The entire power grid has been destroyed as well as most communication and cell service.

Benarroch has volunteered with the Marco Patriots to provide Post-Irma assistance to islanders and those in Goodland, Everglades City, Isles of Capri and Immokalee. She is asking residents to donate to their favorite charities and earmark those donations for Puerto Rico if they can. Another way to help is to donate items to the Marco Patriots and deliver them to 1994 Sheffield Drive on Marco Island, marking them for Puerto Rico Relief. Those donations will be palletized, covered and loaded on a vehicle for delivery to Miami Dade County for transportation to Puerto Rico when a suitable reception point is established.

Some items that are most needed include the following: Batteries (any size), flashlights, small camping gas stoves or grills, personal hygiene products, baby food and formula, summer clothing, can openers, first aid kits, battery powered fans, nonperishable foods and diapers.

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