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Volunteer brigade in Utuado, Puerto Rico helps isolated families

By Brad Sigal |
October 22, 2017
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Brigade in Utuado, Puerto Rico helps repair damage following the hurricane.
Brigade in Utuado, Puerto Rico helps repair damage following the hurricane. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

Utuado, Puerto Rico — On Oct. 21, a large volunteer work brigade of over 50 people went to Utuado, 65 miles west of San Juan near the middle of the island. They did basic post-hurricane relief work that still hasn't been done by the U.S. government or any other official body a month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

The brigade focused on clearing roads and bringing basic supplies like food, medicine, diapers and water filters to isolated families whose homes were mostly still not reachable by vehicle. The hurricane left trees and massive piles of dirt and other objects strewn across roads. While roads had been cleared in parts of Utuado, in other parts this had still not been done.

Under a punishingly hot sun, the volunteers worked all day with shovels, pickaxes, and chainsaws to dislodge trees and move large amounts of dirt that fell from surrounding hillsides blocking roads. In the zone they focused on, they succeeded in clearing the way to all homes except one. For that home, they brought supplies on foot and cleared several of the barriers blocking the road, but didn’t have time to clear them all.

This work brigade was one of many composed of everyday people who want to help their fellow Puerto Ricans that are living through a grave injustice.

These volunteer work brigades expose the inadequacy of the official response to the hurricane. They also stand as a pointed refutation of President Trump’s insulting statement on Sept. 30 when he tweeted, “[Puerto Ricans] want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

The reality is that Puerto Ricans are engaged in community efforts to help themselves and their neighbors, but they aren't getting the large-scale help they need like getting electricity and water working for the majority of people who are still living without either a month after the hurricane.

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