Disaster in Puerto Rico Hits Home in NWA

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Puerto Rico – a U.S. Territory – has been without power since last Wednesday.

Many people here on the mainland are struggling to reach their relatives, including one man from Northwest Arkansas.

“I talked to my mom the day the hurricane was going to hit and everything was okay…but as soon as the hurricane hit, I tried to call and no answer,” said Alvin Lopez. 

Lopez lives in Springdale but grew up in Puerto Rico. His mom and extended family still live there. 

“Everything is destroyed, you know, on the floor, the trees…if you look at an aerial from Puerto Rico, it just looks different,” Lopez said. 

He hasn’t been able to get in touch with his mom for days – most cell sites are out of service. But finally he heard from her church that she’s okay. 

“My focus has been trying to reach my mom…but just when I hear and I see the videos of what’s going, I’m saying why is this taking so long…,” Lopez said. 

Many people are questioning the Trump administration’s commitment to the recovery effort after the president sent a series of tweets criticizing Puerto Rico. 

In a press conference earlier today, President Trump defended the response effort. 

“We are literally unloading on an hourly basis water, food, supplies. We have our top people from FEMA, and our first responders, and everybody else we’re going to be deploying Navy ships, they’ve already been deployed,” Trump said.

Lopez hopes, amid the devastation, people remember Puerto Ricans are Americans. 

“We’re not second class citizens, if we’re citizens, we’re citizens right all the way so let’s take care of business, they have to move quickly on this and not doing it sends a message that’s not good,” Lopez said. 

 President Trump announced he’ll be traveling to Puerto Rico next Tuesday. 

Some estimate it could be months before power is restored to the entire U.S. territory. Puerto Rican officials are urging Congress to approve an aid package quickly to help fund recovery efforts. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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