BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A trail of destruction in the Caribbean, as Hurricane Fiona now makes its way to Bermuda. The storm is the cause of at least five deaths, as crews work to restore power in hard-hit areas of Puerto Rico.
News 4 has heard from one Buffalonian who’s frustrated with the power company on the island of Puerto Rico and what’s taking so long to get the lights back on. We’ve also heard from another Western New Yorker who’s flying Wednesday to Puerto Rico to help.
“Everybody is just working, and neighbors are helping neighbors, and the youth is helping out,” said Chito Olivencia, whose family operates the Pucho Olivencia Center in Buffalo.
The same sentiment we often hear in the City of Good Neighbors, of helping others, now playing out across Puerto Rico, as the island tries to recover from Hurricane Fiona.
Olivencia is in the southwestern portion of Puerto Rico, in Hormigueros, where there’s significant tree damage, telephone poles are down and power is still out for many.
“I blame the new company, LUMA, the new electric company and they gotten the money from the United States and Congress and all that and they’re getting help, but the ones that are suffering are the people,” Olivencia said, “A lot of the businesses are closed, gas stations are backed up right now, they’re backed up, the closest one to where I’m at there’s like 80 cars lined up for gas.”
Olivencia says he’s thankful that he has a power generator.
Significant portions of Puerto Rico are dealing with flooding, landslides and destruction from bridges being washed away.
Rafael Toledo of Buffalo is flying to Puerto Rico Wednesday night to see his parents.
“I lost communications with my mother two days ago, she’s in a newer development, new homes were built, AT&T after Hurricane Maria laid these underground lines and this wasn’t supposed to happen,” Toledo said.
Toledo says he should land on the island around 3 in the morning Thursday. Local Puerto Ricans tell us that many of their loved ones have been frustrated by the slow recovery from Hurricane Maria five years ago.
“The island is still trying to recover from Maria, it’s never got its power grid up and running in a way that you know blackouts do not occur, so it’s very sad,” said Casimiro Rodriguez, the founder of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York.
As for Chito Olivencia, he’s hopeful that everyday will be bring more progress.
“We’re doing a lot better now than we were a couple days ago and yesterday, everyday is getting better,” Olivencia said.
New York State is sending 100 state troopers to Puerto Rico to be help out with recovery efforts. New York’s Attorney General Letitia James is calling for a federal investigation into a power company on the island, after billions of dollars were spent to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.
To donate to Global Giving’s Hurricane Fiona Relief Fund, click here.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.