We can’t begin to know what Milly Ortiz is feeling. Milly, the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator in Systems Planning, doesn’t know from one moment to the next if she’ll be able to talk to her aging parents in Puerto Rico.
When Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory earlier this month, Milly’s parents and disabled brother were cut off from any sort of communication for several days. Telephone service has been up and down, but Milly was able to confirm that her family was not injured and their home suffered only minor damage.
The helpless feelings for Milly and her sister, Glenda, started to creep in when they realized the family had no way to get food and their water supply was limited to a couple of rainwater tanks Milly’s father had set up.
Milly said, “It was very frustrating because it’s not like my parents don’t have the means to buy what they need. There’s just nothing available. My sister and I put together several boxes of food for them and sent them as soon as the postal service could guarantee they would be delivered.”
Because they have no power, the family has no refrigerator or air conditioning. Temperatures in Milly’s hometown of Humacao are in the 80s during the day and the humidity is nearing 100 percent. Milly says, “When I talk to them they don’t complain. They wash clothes with an old ringer and, to conserve water, only wash those things that really need it. They just say it’s like the old days.”
While the family has an old generator that works some of the time, Milly and her sister were able to purchase a new generator stateside and have it shipped to her parents. When Milly’s office mates and other employees of the Planning, Modal and Programming Division found out about the generator, they generously donated more than $500 to help cover the costs of the generator and shipping.
“I just lost it,” said Milly. “I’ve been so worried about everything with my parents and my brother and I feel so helpless. This act of kindness just shows how wonderful our office/division is and how we band together when someone needs help.”
With the new generator on the way, Milly and her sister will continue to send food and water to their family as long as they need it. Others in Puerto Rico aren’t so lucky to have family in other areas of the United States to help them.
If you would like to help, Milly suggests these organizations can help.
United for Puerto Rico First Lady of Puerto Rico Beatriz Rossello’s Initiative