Local Hispanic group says more can be done for natural disaster victims

OCCHA says individuals and organizations should come together so Youngstown can form a unified effort to help victims in Puerto Rico and Mexico

Aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Puerto Rico and Mexico are still struggling without electricity or clean water after the natural disasters that hit both nations. Friday night, a Hispanic organization in Youngstown talked about bringing together local relief efforts.

It’s been just over a week since a second powerful hurricane hit Puerto Rico and a deadly earthquake rocked Mexico. Both countries face years and billions of dollars in reconstruction.

This weekend, Puerto Rico is under a flash flood warning with heavy rain expected, which could only cause more trouble.

“They were somewhat prepared but something of this magnitude, there was just no way,” Betty Cuevas said.

Over the past week, there have been several stories about local residents and businesses collecting money and items to send to Puerto Rico and Mexico. But Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana (OCCHA) in Youngstown feels that more can be done if everyone just works together.

For OCCHA members, the disasters hit close to home as most of the members have family and friends still in the affected areas.

“My uncle, he’s from Utato, Puerto Rico and he’s on the farm,” Sonia Medina said. “We have not heard from him or my aunts.”

“We were checking every day, every hour, checking Facebook for messages or anything,” Cuevas said.

If they can, they’re getting ahold of their family in the destruction to find out what they really need.

“Solar lights would be beautiful to have out there and especially toilet paper, canned goods,” Medina said.

OCCHA members are reaching out to the community to join forces now in creating relief efforts.

“Together as one, as a whole. Not one center here, the church here — I feel that everybody should come together and do it as one,” Medina said.

They will have a drive for a specific list of items plus monetary donations on October 15. You can follow OCCHA on Facebook for updates.

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