Locals fear for family in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rican population in Central Florida unable to contact family, friends

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 Hurricane Wednesday. For many in Central Florida, it has been nerve-racking trying to contact family and friends.

"So we have no contact whatsoever as of right now," said Joshua Delacruz of Kissimmee.  "It's scary not being there, knowing how bad it gets."

Delacruz is a barber in Kissimmee, but his mother and siblings live in Puerto Rico. So far, he has only been able to contact his aunt on the island, after she told him the kitchen was flooding and part of the roof was torn off because of the hurricane.

In Orlando, it has been a trying 24 hours for Rev. Gabriel Salguero with Calvario City Church.

"When we heard Hurricane Maria was making a direct hit in Puerto Rico, we were really concerned because a lot of our parishioners have family members in Puerto Rico," he explained. "I have family members in Puerto Rico."

Church leaders here planned ahead for Hurricane Maria by coordinating with other churches so they have a caravan of supplies that are already packed up and ready to be distributed in Puerto Rico once they get the green light.

But they know the kinds of challenges that are ahead for the island and the families who live there.

"We're looking at more than months, probably years," Salguero said. "And Calvario City Church, we're going to be there because these are our brothers and sisters. "

Church leaders at Calvario City Church suggest donating to organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross so that money can get used on the ground quickly for what will be a long-term cleanup in Puerto Rico.

There is a prayer planned for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Calvario City Church on Oak Ridge Road in Orlando for those in Puerto Rico. A benefit concert is planned at the church for Puerto Rico and Mexico City residents at 7 p.m. Friday.

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