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Valley residents worried about loved ones in Hurricane Fiona's path

Puerto Rico Tropical Weather
Posted at 3:50 PM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 20:38:16-04

PHOENIX — Most of Puerto Rico is still in the dark as Hurricane Fiona’s wrath continues wreaking havoc on the island.

A region that is still recovering from the damage left behind from Hurricane Maria five years ago.

Jesus Martinez, an Assistant Chef at Phoenix Coqui, tells ABC15 he is worried about loved ones in his homeland of Puerto Rico.

Martinez tells ABC15 he copes with the stress and anxiety stemming from all the devastation in Puerto Rico, through cooking.

Our crew watched as Martinez came to life in the kitchen.

“It’s food that I know how to cook. It’s food that I grew up with. So everything just comes with love,” he added.

Martinez says blending flavors in these Puerto Rican dishes reminds him of home. Dishes like Puerto Rican mofongo with pernil (a crowd favorite).

The Assistant Chef says he remembers Puerto Rico as being lush and full of life before he left 10 years ago. Now, it’s a completely different story.

“Puerto Rico is underwater. Besides all the flooding, and you know a lot of houses completely gone. It’s the mud. All the dirt is just falling apart, it's just very very sad,” he said.

It’s a devastating reality for those affected by Hurricane Fiona.

One that continues bringing relentless rain and terrifying flash flooding to the area

“I’m very devastated because they’re barely recovering still from Hurricane Maria,” Martinez told ABC15.

The island is once again in darkness less than one decade after Hurricane Maria inflicted more damage to Puerto Rico than any other disaster in recent history.

“I actually had a family member that passed because of the hurricane. So it’s a lot to process. It’s just sad when you’re here and you can help economically but that’s about it,” he added.

Martinez is in constant communication with family there and, for now, he says they’re just waiting for more help to come.

“I wish I could be there to help people.”

Though, until he’s able to go back, he takes comfort in that he has a piece of home in the Valley.

He also tells ABC15 he is confident the resilience of people on the island will pull them through.

“We’re strong people. We will be better,” Martinez told ABC15.

Wednesday morning, a Valley man who is a volunteer with the American Red Cross, flew out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport for a two-week stay on the island.

Fred Breedlove has been with the Red Cross since 2009 and in his 13 years with the organization, he has helped with a number of natural disasters, including several Hurricanes like Hurricane Harvey, which tour through parts of Texas in 2017.

He told ABC15, for him, it means a lot to be able to help people who may be experiencing the toughest moments of their lives.

The Red Cross is looking for more volunteers to help in Puerto Rico, especially those who speak Spanish. If you'd like to sign up, visit the Red Cross website.