One year on, Middle Tennessee continues Puerto Rico relief efforts

Aug 30, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  Mid-state residents continue to aid the people of Puerto Rico as they rebuild following Hurricane Maria.

Credit FEMA

A Middle Tennessee charity will send a large group of volunteers to the U.S. Territory next month, just in time to mark the storm’s one-year anniversary.

Brentwood resident Connie Hasty traveled to Puerto Rico back in March. She’s a disaster reservist serving with Tennessee based Hope Force International. The ministry has some 2,000 volunteers trained to respond to emergencies just like Maria.

Hasty says she was struck by the gratitude Puerto Ricans expressed for the help provided. She recalls a senior named Yolanda in particular.

“She has nobody and she suffered a heart attack during the storm. She’s 85 or 86 and she was just really grateful for everything that we did.”

A year later, the Puerto Rican government says there are still 60,000 homes without a proper roof and that the power grid is still unstable.

Hope Force Co-Founder Jack Minton says he’s seeing some progress.

“Life is back to normal for a lot of people. At the same time, there are thousands of people who are unable to occupy their homes or are occupying them under tarps. You know, to try to keep the rain out.”

September 20 will mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster. Minton says Hope Force will have work crews on the island as Puerto Rican’s mark the occasion and count their losses.

Just this week the Puerto Rican government revised the storm’s death toll upwards from 64 deaths to nearly 3,000 fatalities.