A Puerto Rican-born Utah lawyer is heading back to the island for her visit since Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory — and bringing with her supplies donated by people from across the Beehive state.
Dorany Rodriguez-Baltazar was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but has lived in Utah since graduating from Brigham Young University in the early '90s. She still has lots of friends and family on the island.
After the Sept. 20 hurricane left the people of Puerto Rico without power, water and the most basic necessities, Rodriguez-Baltazar sprang into action.
“A group of friends, we called each other and we said, ‘What can we do to help our people?’ And we immediately said, ‘We have to do something,'" she says. "So about two days after Hurricane Maria went through the island, we started the relief effort.”
She says besides an initial supply drive, they’ve raised close to $250,000. But she’s worried the tepid response by the White House and recent comments by President Trump may slow relief efforts down.
“People are dying,” she says. “People don’t have access to the most basic necessities. It concerns me when we have a leader saying, ‘This is not as bad as what happened in Katrina or any other hurricane.’ We’re just worried, and I’m saddened as well.”
Rodriguez-Baltazar is returning to Puerto Rico this week to help deliver some of the supplies she’s collected.
Her goal is to keep raising money, which she wants to use on solar generators for the island as it begins the slow process of rebuilding.