Local business looking to help rebuild Puerto Rico after earthquakes

Puerto Rico Recovery

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — People in Puerto Rico are looking for relief after the island has been hit with a number of earthquakes — the largest, a 6.4 quake that struck before dawn Tuesday.

The quake left homes destroyed and people without power. A 4.7 aftershock hit the island Wednesday in the same area as the Tuesday quake.

In Rochester, a local business and Puerto Ricans are looking to help in all of this.

“We can build a better Puerto Rico,” said Mercedes Vazquez Simmons, a local activist. 

That is exactly what local Puerto Rican leaders and business owners want to accomplish, as they muster to bring some sort of relief to the Caribbean island. 

“What we could supply immediately in terms of materials, building materials we work with now.  That’s the short term goal,” said Michael Valle, President and CEO of CM&M Products. 

Valle’s long term goal is to bring their innovative idea of taking the crumbled concrete from homes and business on the island and recycle it creating a bio-organic concrete to help rebuild. 

“That I think a major benefit to Puerto Rico at this point because it’s not only replacing what materials or products that they need, but it’s putting people to work as well. It’s solving the problem of what to do with the waste from a devastation,” said Valle. 

Vasquez-Simmons said many rural homes in Puerto Rico are made out of concrete and aren’t structurally sound. But moving forward she hopes that changes as they await to gain support from the local Puerto Rican government. 

“There’s going to be some level of more structural engineers, more oversight of how the houses are being constructed so that they’re not crumbling when a hurricane happens or an earthquake,” said Vasquez-Simmons. 

Local efforts are underway as leaders begin to collect items, sleeping bags, lanterns, blankets among other things to take to Puerto Rico. If you’d like to help contact Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons at: Mercedes_simmons@yahoo.com

Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed personnel from the New York Power Authority to Puerto Rico to assist in emergency response efforts.

President Donald Trump has declared an emergency. Tuesday’s quake was the strongest to hit Puerto Rico since October of 1918 when a seven point three quake struck the island, causing a tsunami and killing over one hundred people.

AMERICAN RED CROSS: The American Red Cross is on the ground in Puerto Rico, working with local and federal workers at government shelters to provide emotional support and distribute emergency supplies to those impacted by the earthquakes. To donate to the Red Cross click here or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

DIRECT RELIEF: The organization offers support to healthcare providers across the island, in coordination with the Puerto Rican Department of Health, the Puerto Rican Hospital Association, the Puerto Rican Medical Reserve Corps, and the Puerto Rican Primary Care Association. Direct Relief will be organizing teams of doctors, nurses, and mental health counselors to offer medical and mental health services to residents and those staying in shelters. To donate to Direct Relief click here.

WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen prepares meals for people affected by disasters. World Central Kitchen has served nearly 10 million meals on the front lines of emergencies since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and is on the ground in Puerto Rico serving hot meals to families displaces by the earthquake. To donate to World Central Kitchen click here.

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