Rodriguez Family Hurricane Relief for Utuado, Puerto Rico

For: The Rodriguez Family of San Juan and Utuado, Puerto Rico
Utuado, Utuado, Puerto Rico
Organizer: Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Rodriguez Family Hurricane Relief for Utuado, Puerto Rico (The Rodriguez Family of San Juan and Utuado, Puerto Rico)
of $20,000 goal.
Raised by 145 donors
94% Complete

The Story

What would you need to survive on an island for 4-6 months without water or electricity?

That is exactly what our family is facing right now in Puerto Rico, because of Hurricane Maria.

Our cousin, Ventura (pictured above with the gray hair), lives in San Juan. A recent health crisis has left him blind and diabetic, now he has no power or water, and needs to navigate streets of debris to get whatever food is left at a nearby gas station. He lives alone.  He is our relative in the best-case scenario.

The majority of our family lives in the mountain town of Utuado. You likely haven’t seen it on TV, because news crews are finding it nearly impossible to get to. There is one major road to Utuado, and in addition to fallen trees and homes, there is now a massive sinkhole blocking trucks from bringing aid. These people are on their own. No one, including Ventura, has been able to contact our family there. Communication lines are down. You can see some of the devastation in Utuado for yourself here:

Our goal is to send survival tools to our family in Puerto Rico. Through the help of friends and colleagues in Philadelphia, we’ve arranged for one care package to be brought to Ventura. This is not enough.

We’re hoping to raise money to purchase protein-rich nonperishable food, water purification pumps, solar powered cell-phone chargers, flashlights and lanterns, cooking tools, and all other items a person needs to survive on island that’s been completely destroyed.

We are also working with Philadelphia community leaders to contact the Mayor of Utuado, in the hopes of sending money, supplies, and aid workers directly to this town. The ultimate goal is to not only locate our family and provide necessary assistance, but to assist their neighbors as well.

This is the town where our dad, Lou Rodriguez, grew up, where our grandparents met, where their American dream began. Without Utuado, we wouldn’t be here. So we need to help these people, and we hope you will help us do so.

We guarantee that 100% of the money is going to aid Puerto Rico—this is just us working to make this happen. There is no overhead.

Thank you for helping us. We hope we can help you too one day, if the need arises.

Finally, if you would prefer to help the people of Puerto Rico at large, here is a link to the First Lady of Puerto Rico’s fund:

Any help to our family, the people of Utuado, or the island of Puerto Rico is greatly needed.  Thank you.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on October 4, 2017

Posted on October 4, 2017

My family has taken our story public.

Yesterday, after we were discussing a meeting with yet another government agency,  we were actually left wondering how we, private citizens, might be able to contact the Mayor of Utuado (who doesn't have a working phone) to ask him to "officially request aid." That's how much red tape and disorganization we are seeing in trying to get help to Utuado. 

So we decided to write an article about what we've been facing. It's up on now, and it will be in the Inquirer tomorrow, Oct. 5. We need to keep the media, and the country, invested in this story, so the people of Puerto Rico aren't forgotten with the next news cycle. Thanks to everyone who has helped us . It means more than you know.

Posted on October 2, 2017

Posted on October 2, 2017

The NY Times posted video messages from Utuado over the weekend. Our family isn't there, but it could explain how a video of our cousin showed up on Facebook on Friday. You can view the video here:

Haydee, Ventura's sister, is saying she's okay but that she hasn't spoken to her family. She also gives hugs and kisses. We still haven't been able to get in touch with her, or our other family there, but it's good hearing from someone. Here's The NY Times video:

Thank you for all you've done to help our family. We are working hard to find ways to reach Utuado, including meeting with Pennsylvania's National Guard. We are hopeful we will be able to get help there soon.

Posted on September 27, 2017


Posted on September 27, 2017

Through connections at Boston University, we were able to send a good Samaritan to check on Ventura, and deliver food and water. We appreciate the help so much, and we were thrilled to receive this picture.

Additionally, via a colleague in Philadelphia, we were able to put 35 pounds of food and supplies, along with diabetes medication, on a plane from PHL to San Juan. This package is being hand delivered by this colleague, who is volunteering his time, and risking his safety, to reach many more of his own friends and family on the island.

We will continue to work to keep our cousin safe in San Juan, as we now turn our efforts to contacting and aiding our family in Utuado. 

Thank you everyone for your generosity. These are the first steps in what will be a long road, and we couldn't have done it without you.

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