PUERTO RICO, (WDTN) – A local woman is in Puerto Rico right now helping with earthquake recovery.
Darybel Ortiz said she and her fiance created an organization called 18th Parallel Relief that goes in and provides aid to those caught in the path of natural disasters.
Ortiz now lives in Dayton but is originally from Puerto Rico and said her family still lives on the island.
During a chat over FaceTime, Ortiz said so many people still haven’t recovered from Hurricane Maria in 2017 so this most recent blow is devastating.
Ortiz said she had loaded her vehicle down with items that would be needed.
“Pillow tops for the mattresses, I have water, little kids tents because at least, hey, can start to make it a little better for the kids who are sleeping outside their homes,” said Ortiz
Ortiz said she’s glad she’s able to help, and wants to bring hope and a temporary home to Puerto Ricans, many who have lost everything.
“There is approximately 4,000 people displaced from their home,” said Ortiz. “A lot of people in the southern portion of the island, towards the mountains, they are not going to their homes because they’re scared to be inside their home because of structural concerns.”
Ortiz said under her nonprofit, “18th Parallel Relief,” they’re doing business under Dayton for Puerto Rico.
She said they had the idea to create the program after Hurricane Maria but have helped with numerous disasters including the Memorial Day tornadoes in Dayton, and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Ortiz said she’s been back to visit Puerto Rico a few times and that many people are still homeless after Hurricane Maria. two and a half years later.
“Maria put people back at least five years,” said Ortiz. “I’m going to say this adds another five years or more, because they’ll have to completely rebuild from the ground up.”
Ortiz said this recent earthquake activity has devastated even more families so they’re asking for donations.
“I can go and pick up items that people buy through Walmart.com or Home Depot, and I can just pick those items up,” said Ortiz. “We need air mattresses, tents and fleece or blankets. Tents here in Puerto Rice are like completely gone, air mattresses are no where to be found, and it’s the same thing with blankets.”
Click here for more information on how to donate.
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