Our Chicago: Helping Puerto Rico after Fiona and preparing for disaster

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Our Chicago Part 1: Helping Puerto Rico and preparing for disaster
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Almost exactly five years after Hurricane Maria plunged Puerto Rico into an extended blackout, the island was devastated by storm damage from Fiona.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Almost exactly five years after Hurricane Maria plunged Puerto Rico into an extended blackout, the island was devastated by Fiona while it was a hurricane.

The storm dumped up to 20 inches of rain in some areas. It once again damaged the electrical grid, which hadn't been fully repaired after Maria.

Former Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez left Puerto Rico just hours before Fiona made landfall.

SEE ALSO | Chicago's Puerto Rican community outraged by pace of change since Hurricane Maria

"You need to understand they never fixed the electrical grid after five years. This is the most technically advanced country in the world, the richest country in the world. We didn't fix that grid, and that is part of the failure and the death and the devastation on the island of Puerto Rico," Gutierrez said. "Number two, I am now a resident of the state of Illinois, but I lived there for two years. Outages are frequent and common, and the water goes and comes... Now, everything is run by diesel. An island that has so much sun, that it can capture to generate energy, so much wind, and so many waves off its coast has never used that technology to run its electrical system."

In Chicago, the Puerto Rican Agenda quickly began to raise money for recovery efforts. The National Puerto Rican Museum is a member.

WATCH: Our Chicago Part 2

"People on the island need help and people getting tired of being treated as second-class citizens when we are American citizens," Billy Ocasio, the president and CEO.

He said fundraisers are planned in the coming days to help the people of Puerto Rico.

RELATED | How to help Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic during Hurricane Fiona

And while Illinois doesn't experience hurricanes like Puerto Rico, we have our own share of potential dangers. September is National Preparedness Month. It's a reminder for us all to have a plan in place in case of an emergency or disaster.

One key step is to create an emergency bag. According to Joy Squier with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, you'll want one for your home, another for your car.

See what's in a survival kit here.

Find out more about the Red Cross app here.

Click here to donate to the Puerto Rican Agenda relief efforts.

Click here to donate to the American Red Cross.