Editor’s Note: News 8 WROC reporter Josh Navarro is in Puerto Rico to witness the recovery efforts from devastating earthquakes first hand.
GUAYANILLA, Puerto Rico (WROC) — On Saturday, we joined in with other groups that have organized relief efforts.
We drove two hours to the southern part of Puerto Rico to a town called Guayanilla. That town also impacted by the big quake back in late December. It is about 15 minutes east of Guanica.
Some people in Guayanilla are living outside of their homes in tarps and tents because the living conditions of their homes are not safe. Some of the neighborhood is already dealing with financial challenges, and there is a need.
Employees from the Hilton Caribe have also been raising funds and collecting relief items. Hundreds of volunteers from various groups congregated at a baseball park in Guayanilla to prepare hot meals to different neighborhoods.
The same ones that have helped people during Hurricane Maria I 2017 and the manager leading this team lead a team during relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey in 2012.
Items donated from employees from their drives and other groups, including some donated from Rochester, were sorted out. Each group had a team of captains, which were given instructions by a local volunteer group.
As we were driving to distribute the items, you could see yellow and red caution tape roping off buildings that have crumbled. Many of them have yellow and red X marks that means they have been inspected and some deemed not safe and are set to be demolished.
Then, driving over to Guanica, the hardest-hit areas from the earthquake. Driving to a campsite where people were staying, you could see pockets of people tented out along the highway. We went to one a ways down the street from the military tent site, where hundreds of people have been staying. It looked like an army base because armed guards were posted at each entrance.
I was able to meet up with the couple that was shown during News 8’s Red Cross Telethon. They were still living in their car. The good news is there planning to fly back to Rochester after the help of donations. We checked out how the quake impacted Guanica for ourselves. Many streets look like a ghost town, while others that include a residence and small restaurants are still open.
As we started to leave a neighborhood, we thought we hit something with the car because it felt like a thump. However, it wasn’t — it was an earthquake.
We were inside the vehicle, and it started to sway side to side, like if we were on a boat in choppy waters. I looked out the window and saw the electrical wires and street signs swing.
It lasted for a couple of minutes. People along the street didn’t seem to react. As if they were immune to the constant quakes. More aftershocks and tremors followed.