MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The desperation in Puerto Rico is growing in the wake of Hurricane Maria. One week after the storm, the island’s electrical grid is still down.
Forty percent of the population is without drinking water. Food, medicine and fuel are running out.
At least 16 deaths are blamed on Maria. Officials say the situation could get worse if emergency supplies aren’t distributed soon.
The Trump administration is sending more military personnel and ships to Puerto Rico to help with the growing crisis. Trump plans to visit next week.
Sen. Melisa Franzen (D-Edina) grew up in Puerto Rico. Franzen didn’t hear from her family for five grueling days after the hurricane hit.
Franzen told WCCO she is hoping Minnesotans can open their hearts to the Americans on that island.
On Wednesday afternoon, Franzen was trying to coordinate how to get oxygen to her 94-year-old grandmother, who is stuck at home in Puerto Rico.
“Think about if you didn’t hear a word from our entire hometown for five days,” Franzen said.
Franzen moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota 16 years ago.
“I met my husband from Little Falls, Minnesota, and the rest is history.”
In that time Franzen has become a state senator, small business owner, mother and wife. She is used to juggling so much, but felt utterly helpless when the hurricane destroyed much of where she grew up one week ago.
“It is like the state of Idaho, West Virginia, or Nebraska in terms of population. Imagine one of those states completely isolated from fuel, water or food,” Franzen said. “It is a part of the United States. They have fought for our country and we need the same immediate response that another state would have.”
The state estimates some 13,000 Puerto Ricans live in Minnesota.
The biggest challenge is how to logistically get resources to the people who need it on the island.
There are many ways to help people in Puerto Rico.
The St. Paul Foundation is matching all donations up to $250 through Oct. 19.
And this weekend, the Minnesota Twins are are collecting non-perishable food, bottled water and cash donations outside the gates. Here is more information on those efforts:
- The Twins will work in conjunction with La Coalición de Boricuas en Minnesota to assist in relief for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
- Throughout this coming weekend, members of the Twins Wives Organization will accept non-perishable food items, bottled water, and cash donations at Target Field outside gates 6, 29 and 34.
- Items collected will be shipped to those in need in Puerto Rico.
- Fans are encouraged to donate to El Fondo Boricua – a fund of the St. Paul Foundation to assist victims of the recent hurricanes – by going to givemn.org.