There is a plea for help to get 500,000 pounds of relief supplies from Cleveland to Puerto Rico. The supplies are currently sitting inside the IX Center, a short distance from Hopkins, waiting for someone to step up.
“Food, accessories like toothpaste and pampers and women’s products,” said Margie Colon, who collected the supplies through various local Latino groups.
More than 200 volunteers even packed the items onto pallets, which are wrapped and ready to go.
“I guarantee you that we’re going to make it,” Colon said.
On Wednesday night, she returned from a 1-week visit to her native Puerto Rico where she witnessed the devastation of the U.S. island territory firsthand, particularly in the mountains.
“I saw a lot of suffering, I saw a lot of crying, I saw people in survival mode,” she said.
Colon claims FEMA has been rationing out donations and distributing small amounts. Her plan is to work around that by dealing directly with local churches, so that FEMA cannot get a hold of her donations.
“If you come in private, that’s where they don’t have access like from hospital to hospital or church to church. That’s the loophole. Other than that, the red tape is thick and it’s big,” she said.
Colon has priced out the cost of shipping the items through places like FedEx and DHL. It is roughly $250,000, mainly because water is heavy.
Yet Colon said that is what is still needed most. She hopes if her story is shared, it will lead to a solution.