Local group with ties to Puerto Rico helping Hurricane Maria vic - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local group with ties to Puerto Rico helping Hurricane Maria victims

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The last time Jocelyn Loza spoke to her mother in Puerto Rico was a few days before Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

"I did speak to her this past Sunday and tried to have her fly in, but unfortunately there weren't any flights available," says Loza.

Loza was born in the United States and her mother moved back to Puerto Rico in the 1990s. Her mother and many other of Loza's family members are among the nearly four million people living there.

Just hours before the storm hit Loza sent text messages and Facebook posts, but never heard back.

"They are literally without any power, electrical power. Therefore, the phone towers are down as well," adds Loza.

In 2007 her friend, Sylvia Cintron, moved to Chattanooga from Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan. Most of Cintron's family is still there, too, and they've survived hurricanes in the past. However, Hurricane Maria was especially strong and large, so Cintron is quite worried.

"Because of the power failure and the cell sites being compromised and their focusing on the primary responders in relief, we're unable to communicate with our dear family members," says Cintron.

Thankfully, no deaths have been reported as of Thursday afternoon.

In their spare time the two women help run a Facebook page called "Puerto Rico en Chattanooga". It's a place where Puerto Ricans living in The Scenic City can connect with each other. It's now taking on the additional role of helping hurricane victims and taking donations.

Some commercial airlines have announced they will resume flights as soon as the San Juan airport reopens. Cintron will catch a flight soon, hopefully to check on her family and take donated items.

"I want to be sure that we're collecting those items and distributing them directly to those in need," adds Cintron.

She and Loza encourage all Puerto Ricans in the Tennessee Valley to be patient and persistent in trying to reach their loved ones.

"If we could be there, we would be getting our hands dirty already. But distance is what hurts the most," says Cintron.

If you would like to help, visit the group's page often for updated information. | "Puerto Rico en Chattanooga" Facebook page

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