Up Close and Personal: Stories from Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria’s wrath

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Eddie Garcia was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 22, 1958 to Carmen Davila, a single mother of seven. He was raised in public housing and attended public schools in the inner city of San Juan.

He lives in Tampa and is a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. Following Hurricane Maria, he traveled back to his homeland to lend a helping hand of support. What he saw shook him to his core. These are the stories he told News Channel 8’s Rod Carter.

“I went to a home for abused children ages zero to eight. Kids do not have bottled water, Pampers, wipes, very little food left. My heart is broken. I saw the faces of my grandkids in them,” Garcia said.

“West of the island, very difficult there. Some communities do not have contact because roads are inaccessible and they have no communication… One of the major problems is the infrastructure in terms of communication and electricity,” he added.

“I wanted to make a difference.”

“Do you think you did?” we asked.

“No,” Garcia replied.

“The devastation that you see and when you see people scrambling to get something to eat. When you see people with no medical attention, you see sick babies. When you see the desperation and the faces of people and you are not able to provide and to assist.”

Lt. Emmanual Ramos went to visit family just days before the hurricane hit. He ended up riding the storm out with them. He told us what that was like and the days after.

“It was the worst storm that I ever been into… and my family too,” Ramos said.

“It was hard because after the hurricane, there was no path anywhere… So you see all the neighbors cutting and making a path, ’cause there was no one out there to help nobody. I can stay helping my family or I can come to the states to the Tampa Bay area and try to get some help to my family,” he added.

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