x

Embed

x
CLOSE

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.

More: Alphabet’s Project Loon gets OK to use balloons to revive Puerto Rico cell service

More: Weeks after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico struggles to find a new normal

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.

More: Could Puerto Rico go solar? Its governor said talks with Elon Musk about that went well

More: Puerto Rico’s farmers face near total loss from Hurricane Maria

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

  • Puerto Rico's farmers never want to see this again
  • Pence visits U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
  • NY protesters criticize Trump Puerto Rico visit
  • Puerto Ricans struggle in aftermath of Hurricane Maria
  • Trump meets hurricane victims in Puerto Rico
  • Trump asks Congress for $29 billion in additional disaster aid
  • Trump compares Puerto Rico to Katrina, 'a real catastrophe'
  • President Trump meets with the San Juan mayor he called 'nasty'
  • Trump tells Puerto Rico hurricane destruction killed U.S. budget
  • Puerto Rico is now wreckage and rubble
  • Devastated: Naranjito, Puerto Rico and many other towns
  • San Juan mayor plans to attend President's hurricane briefing
  • Dems blast Trump over golf trophy dedication to Hurricane victims
  • Raw: FEMA, Military deliver water in Puerto Rico
  • Women, children, sick: dire need for food, water, power
  • Drone footage shows aerial views of Naranjito, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
  • Many Puerto Ricans still without water, electricity after Maria
  • Watch: Actor Benicio del Toro speaks in on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria
  • FEMA: Progress, but 'hard day' in Puerto Rico
  • 'We are dying': In Puerto Rico, a mayor begs for help
  • Trump blasts Puerto Rican mayor after she begs for help
  • Celebrities are tweeting photos to help raise funds for Puerto Rico
  • Army bringing in more equipment to help in Puerto Rico
  • Trump: We won't rest until Puerto Rico is safe
  • Puerto Ricans brave long lines to withdraw cash
  • NYC food bank ships 20,000 meals to Puerto Rico
  • Crowds jam Puerto Rico dock trying to evacuate
  • Getting aid to Puerto Rico is one thing; distributing it is another
  • Raw: Aid delivered to cities in Puerto Rico
  • Gov.: Congress must treat Puerto Rican citizens 'equally'
  • Trump loosens an old shipping law for Puerto Rico hurricane aid
  • From above, Maria’s plight on Puerto Rico is undeniable
  • U.S. sends more aid to Puerto Rico after Maria
  • Puerto Rican tells of hurricane survival
  • Rubio: Challenges in Puerto Rico extraordinary
  • Hurricane Maria has left Puerto Rico crippled
  • Are Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens? We explain
  • FEMA: Gov't bolstering Puerto Rico response
  • JLo donates $1 million to hurricane relief
  • Trump to visit storm-ravaged Puerto Rico
  • Raw: Failing dam threatens Puerto Rico
  • Raw: Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria
  • Puerto Rico is getting help, but it may not be enough
  • Hurricane Maria leaves path of destruction in Puerto Rico
  • Raw: Puerto Ricans assess damage, collect water
  • Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico in the dark
  • Hurricane Maria batters Puerto Rico
  • Planes flipped like toys at a Puerto Rican airport
  • Streets look like rivers in Puerto Rico from hurricane
  • Maria destroys homes, knocks out power in PR
  • Hurricane Maria is the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in decades