Lehigh Valley

Local group struggles to ship bundles of goods to Puerto Rico

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - More than a month after Hurricane Maria hit, many in Puerto Rico are still struggling with a lack of food, water and supplies.

The Lehigh Valley has stepped up to donate thousands of pounds of goods.

But the issue now is getting those supplies to the island.

A warehouse on South Cedar Street is full of food, water, medical and pet supplies. A local group has been spearheading the effort.

About 42 pallets filled with food, over 2,000 pounds of water, and baby, pet and medical supplies are all slated to be shipped to Puerto Rico.

The problem is getting it to the port in New Jersey in time to be shipped Thursday.

"[The New Jersey Port Authority] wouldn't allow the trailer we have on loan to be loaded in the container at the port in Newark," said Ian Bowers, who is helping with logistics. 

The goods are set to go from Allentown to the mountain town of Patillas, Puerto Rico.

"The main goal is to get food, water and medical treatment out there to the people who haven't received anything yet," said Rae Gonzales.

Gonzales's family is from Patillas. They're opening their mountain home, undamaged by the storm, to volunteers.

Starting next week, a team of 15, including doctors from the University of Virginia, will be heading to the island, working in the local clinic and passing out supplies to those whom FEMA may have missed.

"Mountains of the island are going days and days without food and water. Last I spoke to my family it was 10 days since FEMA came with a box," she said.

Bowers persistence has paid off. After calling dozens of trucking companies, one has agreed to pick up the pallets and have them in New Jersey by Wednesday night.

"The Puerto Rican culture and community is one giant family, so they'll give you every last thing that they have in their house to help those in need down there," Bowers added.

The food is set to arrive in Puerto Rico Nov. 3.

69 News will be in Puerto Rico with the group as they get the food and transport it. We will be following them on their mission to help those in need. 

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