'Life-changing for families': Johnston County family in Puerto Rico on hurricane aftermath

Akilah Davis Image
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
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"No bed. No mattress. Nothing to eat. Nothing. Not even the minimum things," a Johnston County resident in Puerto Rico said of Hurricane Fiona's aftermath.

JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Organizations across the state are mobilizing to send resources to Puerto Rico. Volunteers with the Red Cross in the Sandhills arrived Tuesday and they're working with volunteers there who desperately want to help.

"It's life-changing to many families," said Jose Espinosa. "For now, we are working with one family who has a 1-year-old. The whole river went out crushed the whole house and they lost everything inside the house. No bed. No mattress. Nothing to eat. Nothing. Not even the minimum things."

In the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, the devastation is everywhere. Espinosa has seen it himself. He spoke with ABC11 from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.

Espinosa is a Lieutenant Colonel with the Army Reserves, but he's volunteering his time supporting organizations like the Red Cross. The community is coming together to help establish shelters.

More than 1.5 million people were without electricity, but Espinosa said utility workers from the States are quickly working to restore power.

"They're moving really fast. Honesty, I'm surprised how good it's been, and I know it's going to get even better," said Espinosa.

His son is a Johnston County veteran who was stationed in Iraq when Hurricane Maria hit five years ago.

"Knowing my family was there, I felt effortless. Like, I don't know what to do being there and having no communication with my family completely destroyed me mentally," said Espinosa.

His father told ABC11 that communication is still a problem today as people struggle to reach loved ones stateside as the death toll rises.

"They're trying, some of them were successful. We still have some areas with no signal around," Espinosa said.