Tampa-based relief effort for Puerto Rico collects supplies to be flown to island

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Shai Ortiz has temporarily converted her business from selling drones to collecting relief supplies for Puerto Rico. 

Ortiz has family in Puerto Rico, but like many others in the Tampa Bay area, she hasn’t been able to communicate with them since Hurricane Maria slammed into the island

Despite this, Ortiz and others have quickly put together a relief effort, collecting items that will be flown to people in desperate need on the island.

“We really need water and sports drinks and stuff like that are great. What we really need is baby diapers, sanitary, bleach, cleaning items. What we need right now is just every day stuff, we need stuff to rebuild, lumber, tools are appreciated, everything it would take to rebuild a country of 3.4 million people,” said Ortiz.

Brenda Diaz-Cartagena brought items to donate. She just found out Friday morning her mother and other family members survived the hurricane.

“I was talking with one of my best friends that we grew up together and she told me this morning it was so devastated. The water came out from the lake we grew up [around] and it was flooding up to the roof. They had to spend the whole night in the roof and when she told me that this morning, it was something that we never, never, never in our life expect to go through something like that,” said Diaz-Cartagena.

The donated goods will be flown to Puerto Rico on a large cargo plane.

The Upwind Flying Club in Tampa is helping to coordinate the effort.

“Through our connections, we’ve got cargo planes and we’ve got a couple of other larger planes that will take over 100,000 pounds at a time,” said Juan Concheiro.

Five planes are scheduled to deliver goods within the next two weeks, starting Saturday.

Goods can be dropped off at Homeland Intelligence Technologies at 4916 S Lois Avenue in Tampa.

For more information and updates, you can visit the group’s Facebook page.

The group has also established a GoFundMe account to accept donations.

Follow Jeff Patterson on Facebook

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