Massachusetts Families Desperate to Hear From Loved Ones After Hurricane Strikes Puerto Rico - NECN
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Massachusetts Families Desperate to Hear From Loved Ones After Hurricane Strikes Puerto Rico

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    Five days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, some Massachusetts families are growing desperate to hear from their loved ones after having the lines of communication cut off.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017)

    Five days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, some Massachusetts families are growing desperate to hear from their loved ones after having the lines of communication cut off.

    Neddy Latimer of Leominster is in panic mode after not hearing from her family in Guanica for weeks.

    "Let me tell you something. I am sick to my stomach," Latimer said Monday at the Spanish American Center. "I can't sleep at night not knowing about my family."

    Latimer said she's been calling every day with no answer. She was born in Guanica and has a home there. She was in Puerto Rico visiting, but left the day before Hurricane Irma hit.

    Latimer said she saw the long gas lines and scarcity of water, so she thought it was best she head back to Massachusetts. Since she left over three weeks ago, she hasn't heard a word from anyone.

    There are 15,000 people in the Leominster and Fitchburg area with connections to Puerto Rico, according to the Spanish American Center. Latimer said the center has been inundated with calls.

    "People who want to travel to Puerto Rico to go help with clean up — I tell them to wait," Latimer said. "It's too dangerous to go right now."

    Latimer herself plans to head down Oct. 15 but is still nervous about electricity and no running water.

    The Spanish American Center is planning several fundraisers in conjunction with their local churches in the coming weeks. They hope to bring down supplies to people who need it.

    The American Red Cross said it needs volunteers after the wave of hurricanes, but the volunteers need to be prepared for what they are walking into.

    "We want these people to be part of the solution and not the problem so we do require a minimum of training," said Lynn Levine, the communications director for the Boston Red Cross.

    Levine said the string of hurricanes and the recovery effort is unprecedented. She said the Red Cross has never experienced something on this scale before.

    "Wildfires in the west and tornadoes in the Midwest — we have done that before, but never on this scale. So I would say this is unprecedented," said Levine.

    From hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, the Red Cross in Boston is using every one of its resources including their staff.

    "My CEO is leaving tomorrow morning for Puerto Rico. She has family there right now," said Levine.

    With scarce running water and no electricity safety in Puerto Rico, residents are left with little resources to help them survive.

    "They've lost pots, pans, and sheets, things you don't even think about," said Levine.

    The Red Cross said they still need volunteers and are always looking for financial donations.

    "The recovery is actually just starting. We have to get these people on a path recovery and resilience," said Levine.

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