Orlando faith leaders, groups gather resources after Fiona strikes Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico faces extensive damage after Hurricane Fiona passed through

Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, local faith leaders and organizations are gathering together resources to help.

Orlando, Fla. – Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, local faith leaders and organizations are gathering together resources to help.

It’s estimated more than 1 million Puerto Ricans are without power, and the island’s power company said it will take days to restore it for everyone.

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The Rev. Jose Rodriguez, an episcopal priest in Orlando, said it’s what he feared becoming a reality. He was born in Puerto Rico and said all of his family are on the island.

“The island needs resources. The island needs infrastructure. The island needs help,” Rodriguez said.

Father Rodriguez has hosted several planning calls in recent days from the Christ the King Episcopal Church in Azalea Park. Organizations that provide aid and elected officials have participated, including Commissioner Tony Ortiz, who represents District 2 in Orlando.

“We are waiting to see what happens in order for us to then disseminate that information so we can start working on whatever needs our community in Puerto Rico has,” Ortiz said.

The immediate needs include helping those without power.

“I didn’t sleep last night,” Rodriguez said. “I was seeing the island in darkness before even the sun went down.”

Rodriguez and other local leaders are encouraging people to donate to trusted organizations while they wait and see how they can allocate money and items depending on what goods are needed in which places.

They told News 6 that helping people on the island is the priority while they prepare for the possibility of people coming to Florida like they did after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“I have contacts in Puerto Rico. We’re waiting to see if there is any exodus,” Ortiz said. “We’re basically waiting. We’re standing by.”

Rodriguez said the devastation in Puerto Rico is a painful reminder of what many went through five years ago. He said many people still need help.

“If this is as catastrophic as we are hearing, we need to prepare ourselves for another migration here to Orlando without further burning ourselves out,” Rodriguez said.

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About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.