Volunteers, organizations helping Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona

Mercy Chefs has a team heading down to the island to serve hot meals and provide clean water
Volunteers are gearing up to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona caused devastating damage and flooding to the island.
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:56 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As Hurricane Fiona strengthens in size and heads towards Bermuda, volunteers and organizations are gearing up to help people impacted by the storm.

Over the weekend, the tropical storm upgraded to a Category 1 storm when it made landfall in Puerto Rico and left behind devastating damage, flooding and mudslides across the island five years after Hurricane Maria took a disastrous toll on the island.

“Lots of rain,” said Carlos Vizcarrondo, who lives in the area of Humacao, the southeastern part of the island.

Vizcarrando, also an uncle to NBC12′s Desiree Montilla, said winds reached nearly 80 miles an hour as the storm rolled through the island.

Vizcarrondo relies on his neighborhood’s portable generator and reserve tanks for electricity and water after the storm knocked out power throughout the island. Through conversations with his family, Vizcarrondo has also heard of the damage done to towns across the island.

“There’s a lot of losses of residences,” Vizcarrondo told NBC12 in Spanish. “The rivers grew, and flooding entered homes.”

In Adjuntas, north of Ponce, roads were washed out, causing dangerous mudslides.

On Tuesday afternoon, the founders of Virginia-based Mercy Chefs traveled down to the U.S. Territory to start setting up their plan on the ground near Dorado in the northern part of the island.

Megan LeBlanc, director of communications for Mercy Chefs, said the plan for the team of volunteers is to start serving hot meals on Wednesday and to identify the areas with the greatest need.

“We have three existing kitchens after Hurricane Maria, so once they arrive, they’ll be able to start determining which kitchen is best, which has the best generator power,” she said.

LeBlanc said their team would also bring two water purification units, which can pump upwards of 300 gallons of clean water per hour.

“Latest reports are showing not only are like over a million without power, but clean water is an issue already as well,” LeBlanc said. “We’ll deploy those immediately and find areas to distribute that water safely.”

The American Red Cross also has disaster teams standing by in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help people impacted by Hurricane Fiona. The government opens and manages emergency centers on the island, and reports from the American Red Cross indicate more than 120 shelters are open.

American Red Cross volunteer helping residents impacted by Hurricane Fiona.
American Red Cross volunteer helping residents impacted by Hurricane Fiona.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

The Virginia Red Cross said a volunteer from Williamsburg will be leaving for Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning to help with relief efforts.

God’s Pit Crew in Danville also tells NBC12 they are communicating with their partners on the island to assess the current needs.