HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Holyoke’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has been asked to aid with relief efforts for residents in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona, which left the whole island without power on Monday.
Moments capturing the rain and flooding from Hurricane Fiona comes five years after Hurricane Maria bombarded the island. Executive Director Frank Martinez Enlace De Familias in Holyoke said they helped roughly 700 families then and now they’re getting ready to do it again.
“The resilience between the Puerto Rican people who live here see the need to assist those in Puerto Rico. There are more Puerto Ricans on the main land than there is in Puerto Rico at the moment. So every time that something does happen to the island, the Puerto Rican people kind of step up and make sure that assistance is there to kind of help them,” said Frank Martinez, Executive Director of Enlace de Familias.
While local organizations and state leaders are working to figure out what exactly is going on in Puerto Rico, there are some steps that you can take to help.
“We don’t need clothing right now but right now we’re focusing on food because there’s a lot of people without food in Puerto Rico,” said Priscilla Rivera, Community Organizer of CERT Holyoke.
Volunteers will be gathering Monday from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at City Sports Bar located at 352 High Street and are accepting donations to help Puerto Rican residents. They are specifically asking for the following items:
- Gift cards for Walmart, CVS or Walgreens.
- Anything solar, such as power banks and small lamps.
- Small flashlights
- Ziploc bags (snack, quart, gallon size)
- Trash bags, 32 gallons or bigger
- Toilet paper rolls (each care package can hold 2 rolls)
- Canned spam
- Potted meat
- Vienna sausages
- Mac & cheese
- Chef Boyardee
- Batteries (AA, AAA, C, D)
- Water purifying tablets and first aid kits
- Soap bars, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Baby wipes
- Small packages of diapers
- Oatmeal pouches
- Pancake mix (just add water)
- Feminine products
- Hand sanitizer
- Small packages of rice
- Mashed potato pouches
- Small boxes of powdered milk
- Small battery-operated radios
- Mosquito repellent
- Battery-operated mini fans
The Holyoke Chamber of Commerce will also be accepting monetary donations. Donations should be directed to the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce either by check or electronically, no cash will be accepted. Donations can also be made through Venmo@GrowHolyoke. Checks can by made payable to GHCCF, Attn. Hurricane Fiona, 177 High Street, Holyoke, MA 01040.
The CERT team is made up of community organizations, city officials and volunteers that help the community during emergencies. The team says they are already planning on how to respond if Puerto Rican residents need to be relocated to Holyoke.
“In the western Mass. area, just look at ways we can assist upon receiving information from the Puerto Rican government,” said State Representative Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and other state leaders are waiting for the green light to provide more aid for Puerto Rico. Organizations like United Way of Pioneer Way are also on standby.
“To try to make as much impact as we possibly can. We wait until the local United Way publishes their wish list of things that they need,” said CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley, Paul Mina.