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South Florida Relief Efforts Bring Aid To Puerto Rico & Families Back To US

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, South Florida has stepped up once again in the struggle to recover.

On a chilly Sunday evening and with coats in hand, dozens of families braved the weather waiting for their loved ones to arrive from Puerto Rico on a relief flight.

Puerto Rico Relief
South Floridians brave the unusual chilly weather waiting for their families to arrive from Puerto Rico on Dec. 10, 2017. (Source: CBS4)

"It's been a blessing for us to have them here, especially for the holidays, to be together," said Juan Quiñones, relieved his parents are safe and sound. "Because of the medical situation over there, some medicines and certain care were not available, so again, we're grateful that they're here and able to get the medical attention that they need."

The devastation was so widespread, FEMA said federal assistance has topped $1 billion.

Local organizers, like Rosana Guernica, have pitched in to help. She set out early Sunday morning for her fifth humanitarian trip to the island where she was born.

"We are brining 30,000 lbs of relief aid to people who have still yet to receive help and we're evacuating over 100 patients who need immediate and proper medical attention they cannot receive on the island," said Guernica.

Desperation is an understatement.

"They are very, very short for food," said Mayling Vasquez, who also reunited with her parents. "They don't have electricity, they don't have water. It's very difficult to get the medicine for my dad."

Organizers are grateful for the support they received to make this mission possible. In the future, they said, they'd like to see a better relief plan in place following natural disasters.

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