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Connecticut Residents Trying To Help Family In Puerto Rico Have "Complete Feeling Of Helplessness"

Annette Medero stands outside of the nonprofit she works at in Hartford, Connecticut.
Ryan Caron King
Annette Medero stands outside of the nonprofit she works at in Hartford, Connecticut.

As Puerto Rico begins a slow recovery from Hurricane Maria's destruction, many Puerto Ricans in Connecticut are struggling to find ways to help  family members in need of food and water.

Lea esta historia en español. / Read this story in Spanish.

Hartford resident Annette Medero said she was overcome with sorrow and guilt as she prepared dinner earlier this week. She said it’s not fair that she has access to basic needs when her family in Puerto Rico doesn’t.

“Being able to get a glass of clean water, stuff that we take for granted,” Medero said. “Putting your air conditioner on. Simple things. Going to bed. Clean sheets. It’s a complete feeling of helplessness.”

Medero did find out her family is safe. Her cousin, a police officer in San Juan, has been sending her updates on Facebook. But Medero hasn’t been able to speak with her mother, who lives in the central part of the island.

“My mother is in Corozal. Corozal is a place where there’s two main bridges, and those two bridges collapsed,” Medero said. “The entrance, the exit -- on both ends -- collapsed. There’s no way in. So for me to say, I’m going to put something in the mail -- they’re not going to get it.”

Medero is worried that aid isn’t coming in fast enough.

"They're going to need money to go buy food,” Medero said. “Eventually if that doesn't become available to them, you can't eat money if the food is not available to you."

Medero said it’s now up to political leaders to push for policy changes that would allow Puerto Rico to rebuild quickly.

“We’re watching,” Medero said. “It’s important for our representatives to know we’re paying attention.”

Medero said she’s fortunate that she’s at least been able to communicate with some of her family members. Many of the other Puerto Ricans she's spoken to still haven’t heard anything from their families on the island.

This story is part of “The Island Next Door,” WNPR’s reporting project about Puerto Rico and Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.

Copyright 2017 Connecticut Public

Ryan Caron King joined Connecticut Public in 2015 as a reporter and video journalist.