Local family recruits neighbors and their own business to help with Maria relief

Published: Sep. 25, 2017 at 9:47 PM CDT
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One local family with ties in Puerto Rico is doing everything they can to help with Hurricane Maria relief.

"Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands- they need our help," says Katie Mantooth, Bowling Green resident.

Weeks after Hurricane Maria plummeted into Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory is still struggling immensely.

That's really the biggest where's your water supply, electricity, your food, gonna come from next," says Mantooth.

This local Bowling Green family has their own family stranded on the island.

"My mom and my sister and my step dad... they had to go to a shelter because they were afraid their wooden house wouldn't make it," says Carlos Roda Pacheco, Mantooth's husband and Puerto Rico native.

They went days without hearing from them, wondering if they were even safe.

"It's highs and lows. It's been a roller coaster," says Mantooth.

Pacheco even tried to fly into his homeland, only making it so far by flight.

"We have to turn around because we lost communication with San Juan," he explains. "It was really frustrating. There I was with my bags full of supplies thinking I was going to help my mom and now I'm stuck."

This past weekend, they finally made contact.

"We're going through all these different emotions, but then when you get that phone call... all of that goes away. They're okay, they're safe," says Mantooth.

"To watch him be able to hear from was amazing," she says in tears.

Taking matters into their own hands, the couple who own a booth at Flealand, gave 100% of their sales from this past weekend to Puerto Rico.

"[He said] let's start a drive, let's get this going, I need something to take away my focus," says Mantooth.

They also reached out to neighbors to donate supplies.

"We got probably about a palette full at our house," says Mantooth.

On Monday, Carlos drove the items to Boricuas en Louisville, a group who will drop off the supplies by truck to a FEMA boat in New York. That boat will make it's way to the island.

"Everyone was very thankful, it seems like the community is responding," says Pacheco talking about the scene in Louisville.

These efforts have sparked a new energy among this local family.

"We want to be able to send a semi truck- that's our goal," says Mantooth.

To donate supplies through Boricuas en Louisville (where Pachecos went today) like them on Facebook or contact Ricky Santiago at 787-420-5556.

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