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Caregiver pleads for aid for sick, elderly in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

September 22, 2017 - 2:34 pm
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(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) -- In Puerto Rico, nursing home caregiver Maria Ortiz is trying desperately to get ahead of the suffering her patients may face if she doesn't get aid and supplies quickly for them.

"We can't let them die. We can't let them die. And we need all the help we can get," said Ortiz as she stood in line for water. "We need help. We need diesel for the generator. We need electricity. We need water."

Hurricane Maria came ashore as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday, hitting the island with devastating winds and torrential rains. At least six people have been reported dead so far in the most powerful storm to strike Puerto Rico since 1932.

Ortiz brought ABC News to the nursing home, situated in a residential neighborhood. The grounds were still wet and littered with debris and flattened, dead trees. Ortiz also pointed out the lone generator, droning loudly, on the side of the home.

"This is terrible," she said.

Puerto Rico's emergency management agency said Wednesday that 100 percent of the island had lost power, noting that anyone with electricity was using a generator. Authorities said telecommunications throughout the island had also collapsed.

Ortiz told ABC News that she had no way to even communicate with her family on the island, though she said she could see her relatives' house from the nursing home.

As she walked through the nursing home checking on residents, Ortiz said she was worried about them and felt responsible for their livelihood.

"We're giving them what they need. ... We're taking care of them," she said. "All they have now is me and my personnel here. That's all they have."

Ortiz said that while no patients were suffering at the moment, the nursing home could face dire conditions eventually, especially if the generator went out or she couldn't get more fuel.



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