Rochester-area organizers providing hurricane relief for Central America

Emily Putnam
Created: November 19, 2020 06:18 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The same part of Central America has been hit twice in two weeks by devastating hurricanes.

Two weeks ago it was Hurricane Eta, a category four storm, and this week it was Hurricane Iota, a category five storm. 

This part of the world typically doesn't see storms of this magnitude, so relief efforts are crucial for these communities to rebuild. 

"They already had weak infrastructure, they didn't have all of the resources or were even prepared for something of this magnitude," said community activist and relief organizer Mercedes Vazquez Simmons. "It's a devastation that we've never seen before."

Both Vazquez Simmons and organizer Wanda Martinez-Johncox have had experience with disaster relief. They saw the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo ten years ago and Hurricane Maria in 2017. They say that the damage following these two most recent storms is much, much worse. 

Mariany Familia and her family are from Honduras. She now lives in Western New York, but her family members are among millions directly affected by the recent devastation. 

"More than 2 million people have been affected, many have lost their houses including some of my family members over there, so it's been really heartbreaking," Familia said. "One of my cousins, she has been working her entire life just to get that home and now it's gone."

Thankfully Familia's relatives were able to make it to safety, but the storm swept away all of their belongings as they escaped. 

"They didn't know the water was going to rise so quickly, and when it did my cousin told me it was up to her chin," she said. "So by the time she was getting out of the home she had to basically just carry one daughter in the front and the other one on her back."

Now, a local non-profit group called Re-Lief is sending help. Through Dec. 5, the group is working to collect the following items to send to Central America:

  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Beans
  • Flour
  • Diapers
  • Maseca
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toilet paper
  • Spaghetti (pasta)

Organizers plan to fly to Central America to personally deliver the items to communities hit hard by the recent hurricanes. If you're able to help, they're asking that items be dropped off at Spot CoWork located at 21 Goodway Dr. in Rochester. If you're not comfortable dropping off supplies, they will come pick them up from your home, just call 585-414-9164. They're also seeking financial donations and you can find a link to donate by clicking here.

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