LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – A local group, Puerto Ricans En Arkansas, is doing what they can to help hurricane survivors rebuild since Hurricane Maria hit the island. They've been busy collecting donations for the past two weeks.
The group wants everyone to know the U.S. territory is in dire need of assistance. More than half of Puerto Rico is still without access to drinking water and many still have no power. They’re preparing to fill two cargo planes full of help.
“It's a small island, but when you don't a car or anything and walking is hard or you can't get out of the small town you're in because you have no gas, it's harder,” said President of Puerto Ricans En Arkansas, Elizabeth Berumen. The group is focusing more on helping smaller areas.
"I have some cousins there and I've been in contact with them. Thankfully, they were in an area that wasn't damaged as badly. But I have friends in smaller, rural areas that don't have anything,” she said.
Puerto Ricans En Arkansas has been collecting items like water, mosquito repellent, mosquito nets and candles for those without electricity.
"In our last drive that we just did, we didn't get as much food as we thought we would. We got a lot of hygiene products, adult and baby diapers. We still need a lot of those,” said Berumen. In just two hours at Saint Mark Baptist Church on Saturday, the group collected enough items to fill an entire storage unit.
“Right now, we've got about five pallets of water,” Berumen added. But she said they still need more nonperishable items, things like canned tuna and chicken breasts. “We’re trying to concentrate more now on food items like rice and beans.”
She traveled to Dardanelle and Malvern on Sunday to pick up even more donations. “We have to go to Dardanelle [today] because we have a group of people collecting stuff there. The lady called me and said the stuff was taking over her house,” said Berumen.
Puerto Ricans En Arkansas has two more donation drives coming up. One is set for October 7 at the Southwest Community Center and another on October 8 at Little Rock Fire Station #23.
They're also accepting clothing, but the items must be new. Their plane leaves for Puerto Rico October 20.