NJ residents stand by to assist loved ones impacted by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico
New Jersey residents who have loved ones in Puerto Rico are keeping a close eye on the island as the true extent of the damage done by Hurricane Fiona comes to light.
It is known that there was extensive flooding, daring rescues and an island-wide power outage that could take days to restore.
Newark’s annual Puerto Rican Day parade was held on Sunday. The celebration was bittersweet knowing what was happening on the island at the same time.
“We’ve been here before - so it’s tragic that we are here again,” says Griselle Ponce, president of Newark Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.
Sunday’s parade was the first parade in two years – the same day the hurricane pummeled the beloved island.
“Before we did the parade, we went ahead and said a prayer,” Ponce says. “Our community - we went from celebration to being sad and sort of mourning - but we need to come together and do what we did in past and join forces and stand in solidarity with our island.”
Ponce says she has heard from her family members on the island and says they are all safe. But she says that seeing videos from other parts of the island – videos of the destruction and catastrophic flooding – has been hard to watch.
This is especially true as the fifth anniversary of the devastation of Hurricane Maria is on Tuesday.
“We are praying and having a lot of faith this time it won’t be as bad as the last time,” Ponce says.
Newark Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. will use the lessons learned five years ago to help them plan out to help this time around. Organizers are already thinking about creating survival packages to send to those in need.
“Puerto Rico is a strong island, and our people are strong, and every time something happens like this, we come back stronger,” Ponce says. “We are just hoping we don’t have as many loses as we had in the past.”
It is believed that 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. The death toll from Fiona is much lower so far.
Gov. Phil Murphy has promised to help and says that New Jersey stands ready to provide assistance.