EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The former Hurricane Fiona has now been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
Saturday morning, a group of New York and New Jersey state police headed to Puerto Rico to assist local authorities in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona.
As CBS2's Christina Fan reports, the first wave of 75 New Jersey state police officers boarded buses and then a plane for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. They were joined in the mission by 50 members of the New York state police.
The flew out of John F. Kennedy International Airport around 10 a.m. on a flight donated by JetBlue Airlines.
Their arrival will provide much-needed manpower as the island struggles to overcome power outages, flooding, and damage to infrastructure.
"It's a tremendous source of pride for us here that when disaster strikes around the country, and even off the continental U.S., that they come to the New Jersey state police to deploy and assist them," Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police.
The two-week mission will focus primarily on humanitarian aid. For some of the troopers, the trip is deeply personal. Many have families who live on the island first battered by Hurricane Maria in 2017, then the earthquakes of 2020, and now Fiona.
"Vast majority of the traffic lights are out, so there will be troopers at intersections throughout all of Puerto Rico," Callahan said.
"New York State Troopers have always answered the call for assistance wherever it's needed, from Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to our first assistance mission in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Our troopers will be on the ground assisting our partners with the Puerto Rico Police Department with public safety and recovery efforts as long as necessary," said New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen.
The Hispanic Federation, based out of Manhattan, is also on the ground providing emergency services and essential supplies. Since Hurricane Maria hit five years ago, the organization has invested over $50 million in environmental sustainability, renewable energy and housing. The storm proves more work needs to be done.
"If that rebuild of that electric grid happens immediately, and that it happens in a way that it will be resilient and it will be less dependent on fossil fuel," said Hispanic Federation President and CEO Frankie Miranda.
After the first group of troopers return home, a second group will be sent to continue with relief efforts.
For many families and organizations with boots on the ground, the scenes feel like deja vu.
"People are having to start over again. Some of these are the same people who were impacted by Hurricane Maria and earthquakes, and so they have started over again now multiple times," said Charlotte Gossett Navarro, the Hispanic Federation's Puerto Rico chief director.
"We want to send in large amounts of food and water, but because of the infrastructure damage to roads, there are some areas that we just can't send trucks into," Navarro said.
So they find alternative ways to get as close as they can, then break down the distribution in order to deliver them safely.
Those in the Tri-State Area who can't physically help in Puerto Rico are finding ways to help financially. Saturday, the Queens Night Market will be donating 33 percent of its proceeds to relief efforts.
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