Editor’s note: News 8 reporter Josh Navarro went to Puerto Rico to see the earthquake recovery efforts firsthand.
GUAYANILLA, PUERTO RICO (WROC) — Volunteers from Rochester came together at a baseball field in Ponce, Puerto Rico to help those impacted by the earthquakes.
While volunteers bagged thousands of meals — others sorted relief items to be taken to different Guayanilla neighborhoods in need.
“Listen, after what Puerto Rico and what we have been going through the last few years, I can tell you that the best of the human heart or the human experience comes out during moments like this.” local resident Pablo Torres said.
Once everything was packed and ready to be transported, volunteers began packing the cars and preparing to drive through the debris filled streets. Red and yellow caution tape lined the neighborhoods as unstable crumbled buildings continue to pose a threat.
Lizette Jordan lives in one of those neighborhoods and said her community is one of the 300,000 that were left without water and power right after the earthquake.
Later, the volunteers continued their trip and traveled to Guanica — the hardest hit spot that is now a ghost town.
In Guanica too, streets are blocked off keeping people from the damaged buildings. While reporting there, another 5.3 earthquake hit and the power lines and cars began to sway side to side.
Because of the risk of more damage, a majority of people left the town and are camping out in open fields where the heat index reaching into the 90s.
“The feel of the quake too, around 4 o clock in the morning we had a 4.2 and everything shook right out just in seconds,” Ricky Diaz said. Diaz and his family are originally from Rochester but moved to Puerto Rico. They are now displaced and currently are staying in the field due to the damage.
Here, they said they’ve had enough of these living in these conditions — sleeping outside, cooking in open air, unsure of what tomorrow brings. Their family and friends helped raise money to fly back to Rochester this week.
“Since we lost everything, we’re going to get a fresh start,” Rainlinda Ortiz said. “We’ll go back to Rochester and be with our families and friends. To see my grandchildren and my great grandchildren, that will be nice.’
It’s a reunion they can’t wait for — back in the flower city.