Aurora area drive aims to help Puerto Rico after hurricane

The Puerto Rican community in Aurora is rallying to help the people of Puerto Rico after the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona, which hit the island over the weekend.

“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico,” said Iris Miller, president of the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council.

The group is spearheading fundraising efforts in the Aurora area to provide aid to Puerto Rico. At this time, only monetary donations and gift cards to Walmart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, PetSmart and Walgreens are being accepted.

Donations can be sent through Zelle/QuickPay to 630-886-7300. By mail, checks made payable to the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council can be sent to the council at P.O. Box 2802, Aurora, IL 60507, with Fiona PR in the check memo field.

People may drop off checks or gift cards for the effort at Midwest Occupational Health at 221 S. Lincolnway in North Aurora, Big Boss Barbershop at 37 S. Stolp St. in Aurora, Plano Fit Nutrition at 3908 Turner Drive in Plano, Luxxe Tan at 1218 Douglas Road in Montgomery, Dance Fuze Studio at 908 N. Lake St. in Aurora, Mima’s Nails at 1335 Douglas Road in Montgomery and La Chicanita Bakery at 700 E. New York St. in Aurora.

Hurricane Fiona will be remembered for the deluge of rain as the slow-moving system moved through Puerto Rico. Rain was hitting the island for almost 48 hours during the storm, Miller said. The system was slow moving but it had a lot of impact because of the rain and wind.

“Across the island people have been without power,” she said.

Miller has immediate family in Puerto Rico. She has been able to speak with her mother and father on their cellphones, she said. She has a grandmother and aunts who live in Puerto Rico as well.

“The last report I heard was that about 19% of the island’s population has power. Puerto Rico has a population of more than 3 million so that is very minimal,” she said Tuesday.

Her hometown is Yabucoa on the southeast side of the island where Fiona deluged the area with more than 30 inches of rain, she said.

The storm came about five years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in late September 2017.

“The cell towers for the foremost are working fairly well,” Miller said this week. “The communication compared to five years ago is completely different. I have been able to speak with my family while the system was moving through for the most part.

“Five years ago I did not have contact with my family for 11 days. Being able to speak with and find out that everyone was OK has been a relief,” Miller said.

Fortunately her family did not have to evacuate unlike other areas on the island, she said.

“It’s a blessing everyone I have spoken to in Aurora have been able to speak to their family,” Miller said.

It rained so much and for so long there are now landslides in the mountainous regions, she said.

The Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council, friends and community supporters mobilized efforts five years ago to help the island after Hurricane Maria and are again helping after the latest hurricane.

“We are blessed to be in a community that has already begun to reach out to find out how our families are doing and what they can they do to help,” Miller said.

Linda Girardi is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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