NewsLocal News


Puerto Ricans seek refuge in Utah as community continues to support recovery efforts

Posted at 7:02 PM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 21:02:59-04

LEHI, Utah – The devastation of Hurricane Maria has forced many Puerto Ricans to leave the island. Some are finding refuge in Utah, while helping those left behind rebuild.

Hector and Annie Rodriguez touched down at Salt Lake International Airport Monday evening, three weeks after Hurricane Maria battered their homeland of Puerto Rico.

They reunited with their daughter Dorany and her family. When Maria hit, she didn’t hear from her parents until a week later.

“My biggest fear is are they going to be able to get their medicine?” said Dorany Rodriguez-Baltazar. "Are they gonna be OK? Do they have enough water? Do they have food?”

Her parents are happy to be out of danger, but their thoughts are with the people of Puerto Rico.

At this point they don’t know when they will return home. Right now most of the island is still without power and running water.

Jeffrey Mendez is the Senior VP of Sales for Vivint Smart Home. He returned from Puerto Rico on Sunday, where he delivered donations from the community. Lularoe CEO Mark Stidham provided a charter plane free of charge, so Mendez could make several trips from Miami to Puerto Rico.

“Once I got to the ground in Puerto Rico it was unrecognizable. All the lush green trees and palm trees were wiped out,” said Mendez.

Mendez grew up in Puerto Rico. He was disheartened to see the people in such turmoil.

“The most striking thing for me was witnessing the long line of people just buying ice. When we went to take snapshots of the line, we couldn't find the end of the line it was so long,” Mendez said.

It will be a long road to recovery, but Mendez is prepared to help for as long as the people need it.

“It's definitely a difficult departure, and I came with the resolve that we have to double triple down with the efforts we're already doing,” Mendez said.

Silicon Slopes leaders have raised more than $200,000 for the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief. They’re asking for the community to continue to give, as they will be sending more supplies to the island in the coming weeks.