PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Supplies and support is making its way from Southwest Florida to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. A group of volunteers is using a Facebook page to connect those on the island needing help to those in the states that can provide it.
“We’re trying to do what we can to collect the necessary supplies for the people of Puerto Rico,” said Lillian Aragones, organizer of SWFL Ayuando a Puerto Rico, the Facebook page for Hurricane Maria Relief.
Aragones began volunteering her time after spending weeks not being able to get ahold of her 94-year-old aunt that is currently stuck on the island. She says Puerto Rico still has extremely limited access to resources but the Facebook page has been able to relieve some stress on her extended family.
“We’re trying to get battery operated fans because [my aunt] told me she was using a piece of cardboard to fan her kids at night while they were sleeping because it’s so hot," Aragones explained. "She noticed on the page that two or three people had already said we’re ordering them online, we’re sending them to you.”
Over two thousand people have now joined the page and are lending a hand in bringing in supplies. Aragones rented out a 2400-square foot office space in Port Charlotte to serve as a drop-off location for supplies. She says the biggest need in Puerto Rico is water.
"Water, right now, is the most important. But it's expensive, because it's too heavy to be flown by plane so you have to ship it."
Aragones says she's looking for more volunteers and anyone that is willing to help. She and her team are determined to keep going.
“We’re the type of people that takes the shirt off our back to help our neighbors or to help that person who needs.”
The Hurricane Maria Relief drop-off location can be found at 1032 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte, Florida. The times to drop supplies off are Tuesday and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm and Thursday from 4 to 6 pm ET.