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Roberto Clemente Jr. Urges Pittsburghers To Contribute To Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Efforts

Carlos Giusti
AP Photo
National Guardsmen arrive at Barrio Obrero in Santurce to distribute water and food among those affected by the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.

The son of Pittsburgh Pirates legend Roberto Clemente is teaming up with two local groups to send critical supplies to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Brother's Brother Foundation and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced they'd be gathering monetary donations, medical supplies and non-perishable foods for residents to deliver as soon as airplanes are allowed on the island.

According to the organization, 100 percent of disaster funds go to help people in affected areas.

Roberto Clemente Jr. is a Puerto Rico native, and members of his family, including his mother, were on the island when the hurricane hit.

Clemente Sr., who played for the Pirates from 1955 to 1972, was passionate about charity work. He died in a 1972 plane crash on the way to provide relief supplies to Nicaraguans after a devastating earthquake. Clemente Jr. says helping others is in his DNA.

"That's how we were raised, and that's the culture of our family and how I grew up," he said. "The only thing we know how to do is to give and help when help is needed."

Clemente Jr. said his family on the island has told him the damage from Hurricane Maria is "five times worse" than the effects of 1989's Hurricane Hugo, which devastated Puerto Rico's infrastructure and economy, and killed a dozen people on the island.

Ten people are confirmed to have died in the aftermath of the storm, and a majority of the island is without power or cell phone service. Officials on the island fear the Guajataca Dam in the northwest will collapse, endangering 70,000 people.

"We're talking about four to six months without any power which is devastating for everyone," Clemente Jr. said. "People with medical needs and hospitals have generators but they need the fuel and the diesel."

Gov. Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico has said federal aid from Washington, D.C. has not come quickly enough. The Trump administration sent two officials to the island Monday to assess damage.

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.
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