Andres Rosa’s video is difficult to watch.
He arrived at the elder home in Isabela, Puerto Rico, on Thursday to deliver a generator, but was so struck by what he found he felt compelled to take out his phone and film.
The facility houses 13 elderly women, who had been without power since Hurricane Maria made landfall Sept. 20. Frail and infirm, they lived without air conditioning and lighting for almost a month.
“These are our Puerto Rican people — our mothers and grandmothers who are suffering,” Rosa narrates. “All we have is us, there is no FEMA here, there is no Army here. The people help the people.”
Troubled by tales of suffering emerging from his native Puerto Rico, Rosa, a New York business consultant, first arrived on the hurricane-stricken island three weeks ago.
He quickly realized much more needed to be done to help his home island.
“Things are just not getting there,” Rosa said in a phone interview. “People are dying, it is a daily struggle to get the basic needs.”
Rosa partnered with several others to form a group to coordinate relief efforts and distribute donations received from the mainland. The group set up a warehouse to store food and medical supplies, which they have been distributing to local clinics, schools and homes.
“We are not first responders nor politicians,” Rosa says. “It is all heart. We do it from the heart. Puerto Rico is quickly becoming yesterday’s news, but now, as we hit the one-month period since the hurricane hit, it is more intense. It is when the death toll rises.”
Although they have plenty of volunteers, Rosa says the group needs more help with operational costs and distribution.
Rosa has been going back and forth between Puerto Rico and New York and says relief efforts are just beginning.
“It is one thing to watch it on the news, another to see it with your own eyes. It is difficult to leave.”
“Our team is going nowhere.”