BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — When Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico in 2017, Alabama responded.
“Puerto Rico Rise, Alabama” was a Facebook group that united Puerto Ricans living in Alabama in efforts to provide relief to the island.
“People from everywhere — from Huntsville, to Montgomery, to Mobile — they all came to downtown Birmingham and gave,” said Luis Delgado, a member of the social media group and the chef and owner of Miami Fusion Cafe in Birmingham. “We collected it and got it to the island.”
Thousands of pounds of donations were flown to Puerto Rico, where “Puerto Rico Rise, Alabama” members helped to distribute the goods. Delgado did not go to Puerto Rico, but his restaurant was a central location for the donation effort.
“We are always going to be active,” he said. “It [Hurricane Maria] was something that we knew was going to be an issue for years to come.”
Now, Delgado and other group members are keeping an eye on the newest threat as Tropical Storm Dorian nears Puerto Rico.
“A lot of people are leaving,” he said. “It’s like PTSD. They’re still thinking about what happened.”
There have already been discussions among “Puerto Rico Rise, Alabama” about how they’ll respond in the event that Dorian proves to be a particularly devastating storm.
“This is not a good place to be in the next two to three days,” said Nick Russo of FEMA. “The good news is, this will be a very quick storm. This will come through in six or seven hours and then it will be over and we can assess the damage.”