Virginia's First Lady holds fundraiser for Puerto Rico

Updated: Sep. 29, 2017 at 11:37 PM EDT
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Virginia's First Lady spearheaded a fundraiser tonight for the victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico.  She hosted an event at Stone Brewing in Richmond, answering the call from Puerto Rico's First Lady to support the United for Puerto Rico fund.  400 people turned out, raising money and raising spirits for people there whose families in Puerto Rico are struggling to survive.

Aida Pacheco and Debbie Parker attended the event.  They're two Richmond women originally from Puerto Rico who have lost a loved one to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

"My relative there, her half sister passed two days ago who had cancer and she had to have a machine to sort of breathe, and they had to ration the water and the food and so she expired," said Parker.

They've had no word yet from some of their relatives, as communication lines are down.  Only a text message has made it through from some family members to say they're okay, but scared.

"They're running out of food, water, no electricity.  You can't get fuel for the generators, so it's really sad," said Pacheco.

It's stories like that that drove First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe to hold this fundraiser for Puerto Rico's First Lady Beatriz Rosello's fund.

First Lady McAuliffe told us, "When she asked other First Ladies of the United States on the mainland to please get involved for her fund. She has United for Puerto Rico Fund that we're all helping with."

Richmond Mayor Stoney was gratified to see so many Richmonders turn out.

"We know something about resilience as well, so were sending Puerto Rico a little of our resilience, but also some of our generosity," said Stoney.

Many Puerto Ricans are concerned, saying resources have been slow to arrive.

"What to me is most disturbing is the slow response. Having to go to regulatory rules to get help to Puerto Rico when we are an integrated part of the United States," Parker said.

Governor McAuliffe told us Virginia has sent the National Guard and he is sending teams from his administration to assess what else is needed.

"We immediately sent down Search Team Rescue One and Two, from Virginia Beach and Fairfax County.  I just deployed 350 of our National Guard to the Virgin Islands, which will relieve 350 of the Puerto Rican National Guard so they can go back to Puerto Rico," the Governor added.

Seeing so many people attending tonight's event heartens Aida and Debbie, but their concern for their family in Puerto Rico is far from over.

"You don't t know what to do," Pacheco said.  "You feel helpless."

Organizers say $7,600 was raised at the door tonight, but more donations were made online.

Donations can be made to United for Puerto Rico by clicking here.

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