More than 60,000 pounds of humanitarian aid or distributed Saturday, Oct. 7, on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Video by John A. Torres

AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — Sometimes being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference in the world.

When Stan Brock, the founder of the volunteer-driven non-profit Remote Area Medical, reached out to a friend he heard was already doing relief work on the battered island of Puerto Rico there was no hesitation to alter plans.

Once Brock called, Titusville, Fla., missionary Joe Hurston delayed returning to the mainland and switched gears to help facilitate a massive shipment of aid to the hurricane-ravaged island.

The result?

Early Saturday morning, representatives from Catholic Charities, the Presbyterian Church and an evangelical group gathered together to pray and then cart away more than 60,000 pounds of humanitarian aid that Brock’s group had sent to the west coast of the island at no charge, thanks to FedEx.

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The massive shipment containing everything from food to medicine to toiletries and other basic necessities was brought to a distribution center and divvied up by the three groups. Had it not been for the serendipity of Hurston already being in Aguadilla, delivery of the much-needed aid might have been delayed for days if not weeks.

Hurston was already on Puerto Rico delivering 10 water purifiers. He explained that unless someone is there to meet the delivery, shipments like this often get put away and stored in a nearby hangar requiring multiple phone conversations and paperwork before it can be released. It’s always best to meet the shipment as soon as it gets taken off the plane.

“I am extremely grateful to have been at the right place at the right time to help funnel this great gift to where it is needed most,” Hurston said.

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Rey Matos-Rivera agreed saying the bulk of supplies would go to hard-to-reach mountain communities.

“Right now our people need so much help,” he said. “There are several towns that are alienated that have not received any help at all and those are the people we are targeting right now. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the people who have donated these supplies. We’re going to be able to do so much with this.”

Less than 10% of the island has had electricity and water since Hurricane Maria struck at the end of September. Many were already without power before that after Hurricane Irma skirted the U.S. commonwealth.

Day-to-day life has become a daily grind of survival, with many Puerto Ricans struggling to get basic necessities most of us take for granted.

Benjamin Puente Nelida Trujillo became emotional when he saw one forklift after another filled with supplies. In all, there were 72 pallets of humanitarian aid.

“How do I feel?” he repeated my question in Spanish as tears welled in his eyes. “The world has heard our cry for help and has responded with one voice. We are not being forgotten.”

Follow John Torres on Twitter: @johnalbertorres

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