Floridians who donated and volunteered to gather vital supplies, are upset and worried that red tape is stopping their aid from reaching Puerto Rico.
By Jacob Engels
Over the past few days, the Central Florida Post has assisted local non-profits and community leaders in gathering relief supplies for the people of Puerto Rico.
Peter Vivaldi, a former youth pastor and political activist in the Central Florida Puerto Rican community helped form those efforts and ready the delivery.
“While Puerto Rican congressman on both sides of the aisle worry about the NFL and immigration reform, 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico still have no food, water, or power. This is not a political issue, it is a humanitarian issue,” Vivaldi told the Central Florida Post .
The former state senate candidate has been in contact with the office of the First Lady of Puerto Rico, and others on the island to determine the needs of the people.
Hundreds of faith based organizations, small business owners and local residents united to collect tens of thousands of pounds of water, food, and diapers. Thousands of tarps and pieces of plywood were also donated.
Eduardo Rodriguez, owner of the popular Puerto Rican restaurant Melao Bakery in Kissimmee, donated dozens of generators to help his homeland get back online.
“We need Congress to lift the restrictions immediately. I worked with several local churches to gathered 100 hundred of the 300 generators. Since our shipment has been frozen, we have lost two elderly people in need.”
The man who stepped up to transport the goods to Tampa for delivery to Puerto Rico described hundreds of people coming together to load the trailers.
“I saw hundreds of volunteers and donors pack six 18 wheelers with thousands of gallons of water, and tons of food. We are ready to help the 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico,” described
As people and pets in Puerto Rico continue to die and face horrific circumstances, donations from regular Americans are being confiscated and delayed.
Floridians aren’t the only ones experiencing trouble bringing donated goods to hurricane ravaged areas. Michigan resident Helen Atkinson traveled over 24 hours to reach Florida.
When she got into the state, groups like the Red Cross failed to post reliable drop-off hours. It took her stopping seven times before finding a group to accept the donations from up north.
“I didn’t know what we were going to do. The supplies are heading to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean now. They have absolutely nothing there,” Atkinson posted in a series of videos on Facebook.
Meanwhile, Congress has failed to act on President Trump’s request to aid Puerto Rico and ease restrictions for non-governmental groups to supply those in need.
Vivaldi says shipments are waiting to leave from the Port of Jacksonville and the Tampa Executive Airport.
Sadly, Puerto Rican’s in Congress seem more focused on partisan political issues. Republican Raul Labrador of Indiana merely tweeted a message of support, while Florida Democrat Darren Soto was more concerned with the NFL’s “TakeTheKnee” controversy.
Soto even hosted a $1,000 a ticket campaign fundraiser as Hurricane Maria passed over Puerto Rico and devastated the barely recovered commonwealth.
Even if we are successful in cutting the red tape that is restricting goods from entering Puerto Rico, our sources confirm that assets on the ground don’t have diesel fuel to distribute the supplies.
“The longer it takes for Americans to be able to assist their counterparts in Puerto Rico, the quicker the death toll will climb. We need to have the resources, the transportation network, and distribution on the ground,” Vivaldi concluded.
You can encourage local Congressman Darren Soto to expedite relief efforts by calling the local office in Kissimmee at (407) 452-1171.
Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, InfoWars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, and Fox News to name a few. Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and business special interests in the state of Florida.