Former Killeen Mayor Raul Villaronga said things are beginning to move in Puerto Rico, but the people of the island are still in dire need.
Villaronga, a Puerto Rican native and longtime Killeen resident, made the comments Thursday.
He recently communicated with two of his nieces in his hometown of Ponce — the second largest city in Puerto Rico on the south coast. The eye of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane with 155-mph winds when it hit Puerto Rico, landed just west of Ponce.
“One niece said the family is fine as she has a well and power generator,” Villaronga said. “The other niece does not have water or electricity, but said they were OK.
“There has been a lot of political hay being made (about the response to the disaster caused by Hurricane Maria nearly two weeks ago),” Villaronga said.
A new poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Wednesday shows a majority of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s response to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Associated Press reported.
Just 32 percent approve of how the president is handling disaster relief in the U.S. territory, while 49 percent disapprove. Meanwhile, most Americans were satisfied with Trump’s response after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida.
Villaronga said the U.S. government was slow getting the military help to Puerto Rico, but knows they will get the job done.
“The military being there will give the island logistical services (that have been missing),” said Villaronga, a retired Army colonel and Vietnam veteran. “Things are beginning to move, but it is tough — even with the support — because there are so many isolated towns in Puerto Rico.”
He noted the San Juan Airport recently opened.
“There is no way you can prepare for something like this,” Villaronga said.
A fundraising event for Puerto Rico and earthquake victims in Mexico is being planned by the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce Central Texas on Oct. 21. The event will feature music, dance groups, restaurants and food trucks. The event is expected to begin at 11 a.m. at the Killeen Special Events Center, 3301 S. W.S. Young Drive. All proceeds will be donated to those working directly with the communities affected.
The fundraiser is being called "Together for a Cause Fundraising Event."
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/pages/Killeen-Special-Events-Center/167726466597802 or www.haccctx.org.
The Killeen-based Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana organization is continuing to raise donations and supplies for Puerto Rico, this time partnering with an organization called HelpingPuertoRico.org located in Georgetown. Drop-off points for donations in the Killeen area are:
• First National Texas Bank, 4304 E. Central Texas Expressway.
• First National Texas Bank, 201 E. Central Texas Expressway.
• Blessed Cuts, 810 N. W.S. Young Drive, Suite 108.
• U-Haul Moving & Storage of Twin Creek, 1507 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana organizer Nelson Santiago said Thursday the two organizations are meeting to do inventory and discuss another trip to Puerto Rico.
He expects this load of supplies to be flown to the island.