Red Cross running into travel roadblocks for Hurricane relief efforts

Hurricane disaster relief efforts continue in Puerto Rico

September 14, 2017. Red Cross shelter, Miami-Dade County fairgrounds, Miami. Red Cross volunteer Lynette and hurricane evacuee Lester. Photo by Marko Kokic for The American Red Cross

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hurricane disaster relief efforts continue in Puerto Rico.

The Red Cross of western Massachusetts says they have dozens of trained disaster relief volunteers ready to deploy, but traveling to Puerto Rico is difficult.

The 10 flights a day in and out of Puerto Rico’s major San Juan Airport are mostly reserved for Government FEMA aid.

Western Massachusetts Red Cross Executive Director Jen Garutti told 22News they are having trouble getting to the island by plane and boat.

“We’ve heard that there is a lot of debris from the islands that was destroyed and is in the ocean and some of the big ships are having trouble getting in there and there are a limited amount of planes flying into that location,” said Garutti.

But that doesn’t mean the Red Cross isn’t helping.

Inside the warehouse of the Red Cross of western Massachusetts, they’ve accumulated supplies with your donation money. They will be loaded on to planes and ships and sent to the Hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. Everything from water and fire blankets to essential cleaning supplies.

The Red Cross is caring for 13,000 Hurricane Irma and Maria victims across 188 shelters in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Local church organizations say they’re standing ready to help refugees.

“Relocating people, financing their relocation. Helping them get reoriented into a community that is completely foreign to them. The larger church will do that and they will contact us and say we have a family that is being displaced to Westfield. Can you support them?,” explained Rev. Bruce Arbour of the First United Methodist Church.

Between Irma and Maria, the Red Cross 2,300 workers with hundreds more on the way, and even more helping Hurricane Harvey victims.