Editor’s note: News 8 reporter Josh Navarro went to Puerto Rico to see the earthquake recovery efforts firsthand.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In the central region of Puerto Rico, there’s a mountainous town nearly 400 feet about sea level called Lares.
Lares is often forgotten, but not untouched by recent natural disasters hitting the island.
This small town is another place out of several Puerto Rican community that Rochester residents travel to to bring relief and aid to the Puerto Ricans living through these hard times.
“I have never felt an earthquake before,” Carmen Callazo said. Callazo was born in Puerto Rico, but moved to Rochester with her family when she was only 2 years old in the 70s. After several years in the Rochester community and even having her own grocery story on Scio street, she eventually moved back to Puerto Rico.
“At least like the government, please check these other houses, these other towns there are so many little places they don’t go through because the way the roads are and they have to check,” Callazo said.
Upon arrival in Lares, the Rochester volunteers met up with Edith Ortiz-Aquino, of the Bronx and a U.S. Army vet. She runs a local shelter in Lares.
“This is the face of Puerto Rico, these are the lost homes in Maria, and President Trump and the governor have forgotten and Mayor of Lares has forgotten.”
When she arrived she met with two engineers from the University of Mayaguez to evaluate the houses and make sure people can still live in them.
“We were told by two engineers, because we brought it two, from the University of Mayaguez, to check to make sure to see if they can go back to their homes. because the minute that first earthquake hit, they ran out.”
“We are United States citizens, we as well as you are United States citizens and we are being forgotten by this president right now.”
The families in Lares are living in what was once classrooms in a small local school. It is the only building big enough and is still partially structural sound enough to hold the families. Ortiz-Aquino said FEMA hasn’t arrived or provided any sort of aid to help.
“We live up here, there are human beings that live up here in the mountains, look at these children, human beings. We are not dead up here.”