SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield has begun laying the groundwork for significant assistance to the hurricane battered population of Puerto Rico.

A news conference was held at City Hall called by Mayor Domenic Sarno and leaders of the city’s Puerto Rican community. Maria Perez, the city councilor representing Springfield Ward 1 joined Mayor Domenic Sarno and leaders from the New North Citizens council to take the first step in helping the victims of Hurricane Fiona.

“What are the needs of Puerto Rico, and then having some financial assistance When the needs are assessed, we are prepared.” City Councilor Maria Perez

Hurricane Fiona, striking Puerto Rico five years after the dreaded Hurricane Maria is expected to have history repeating itself with a large influx of Islanders relocating to western Massachusetts in particular to the City of Springfield.

“Many of the individuals who lived through Hurricane Maria, came here to the City of Springfield. Springfield proudly stepped up, many have stayed here.” Mayor Domenic Sarno

As the city comes to grips with the enormity of its commitment to the storm victims, The New North Citizens Council will engage in the necessary fact-finding to help determine what’s needed and how much the city can bring to bear.

“What I want to do is to be prepared. I want them all to be prepared to be able to help these families that will be coming here, their going to suffer a lot there.” Rosa Espinosa, New North Citizens Council program director

This was just the first step, phase one of what will likely be a massive plan to help these hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. The commitment appears every bit as strong as it was for those who were helped during that earlier devastation five years ago.

If you would like to make a monetary donation. mail to New North Citizens Council, 2455 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01107 or to Freedom Credit Union, 1976 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103.  Monetary donations can be made out to New North Citizens Council (NNCC) with attention or C/O to Fiona Hurricane Disaster Relief in the memo section.

City officials will continue to monitor the situation and announce additional relief and assistance to those in need including clothing drives, food donations, home, building, and cleaning materials.

Mayor Sarno states, “First, I want to thank City Councilor Maria Perez and NNCC Program Director Rosa Espinoza for reaching out and contacting my office to schedule a meeting so that we can go over our local preparations for a response and be ready to provide relief and assistance to those in need, if necessary.  Much as what my administration did in working with New North Citizens Council and our community partners during hurricane Maria five years ago, we have a tested and true process of providing relief and assistance for our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico, if and when it is needed.  First, as Councilor Perez stated, we need to fully assess and review the situation in Puerto Rico before taking next steps.  I want to thank New North Citizens Council and Freedom Credit Union for once again stepping up and being ready to provide relief.  They will be accepting monetary donations, much like they did in response to hurricane Maria.  In addition, in the event of an influx of individuals and families relocating here, we are ready and prepared to help our fellow Americans in any capacity that we can.”

Councilor Perez stated, “We need to first assess the situation in Puerto Rico before we can take next steps.  Once we learn more about the situation in Puerto Rico and the aftermath of hurricane Fiona, we will have a better understanding of what is needed and how many individuals and families, if any, will be looking to relocate here to the city of Springfield.  In the meantime, I want to thank Mayor Sarno and his administration for meeting with me and NNCC Program Director Rosa Espinoza.  Five years ago, while I was serving as the School Committeewoman, we worked with Mayor Sarno and his administration in developing an outreach and disaster relief efforts and initiatives for those in need in the aftermath of hurricane Maria.  As we learn more, we stand ready to provide assistance and will follow up with subsequent meetings.”         

“Five years ago, my administration responded to help our brothers and sisters of Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, by taking on the most of our fellow Americans in need in the state, including the most students into our Springfield Public Schools – we proudly stand prepared to do it again!” Mayor Sarno added.  “My dedicated staff will continue to work with Councilor Maria Perez, Rosa Espinoza, the team from New North Citizens Council and all of our community partners and officials to assist those in needed.”