Seattle area offers help for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico

Seattle area offers help for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico. (KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Three weeks since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, families there are still without power and running water.

In Seattle, Aaron Morales just returned from Puerto Rico where he delivered supplies and food to his family and hurricane victims.

Morales said he took matters into his own hands to help his family who lives in Puerto Rico, including his 87-year-old grandma.

“My grandma was running out of food. All the carriers to bring packages were inoperable,” Morales said of his grandma who lives by herself in Carolina, about 10 miles from San Juan.

Morales carried three 80-pound bags, delivering food and supplies to his grandma and the community. He and his family also made survival packs filled with dehydrated food and water purifiers for dozens of local families.

“That’s not enough, but’s that’s all I could do as one person,” Morales said.

Another man from Seattle has also been personally affected by the hurricane.

Felipe Santiago is a former Seattle Police officer who lives in Arecibo with his wife. Their home escaped serious damage.

"There are people who are in very bad conditions right now," Santiago said. "A mile from us. It was completely inundated."

He said the big concern now is the lack of power and running water.

“We get water once a week,” Santiago said. “We don’t know when the light is going to come. We don’t know when the water is going to come.”

They have the drinking water and food stocked up and occasional access to a generator. He said other families aren’t so lucky and the relief coming is minimal.

“Many towns are just getting one box, that’s it. It’s just too little. I know they have the food. It’s just bad organization,” Santiago said.

He knows help is coming.

“So far not getting here on time,” Santiago said. “I wish they could do it faster. They are not doing a very good job distributing the food to the people that really need it.”

Even so, Santiago said he and the community are deeply moved.

“We are grateful for all the help from all the people of the United States,” he said.

People in the Seattle area can still help people in Puerto Rico. A special disaster relief fundraiser is being held at at several restaurants including Burger Broiler and El Rinconcito in Burien. The businesses will match every dollar donated up to $30,000. The fundraiser also benefits disaster victims in Florida, Texas, and Mexico. It runs through Sunday.

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