Hurricane Maria survivor makes it to Central Texas

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LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — After not hearing from his mother for five days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Andre Collazo didn’t know if she was even alive.

“Our worry was communicating with our family,” said Collazo’s mother Luz Huertas-Martinez.

Huertas-Martinez finally got in touch with her son, who lives in Leander, through a relative. The communication was confirmed after Huertas-Martinez and her husband made contact with a hand-held radio operator who was contacting families of Hurricane Maria survivors.

The bridge to get to Utuado, the town where Huertas-Martinez lives, was flooded, trapping her and her husband in their home, with no electricity. After the waters receded, that’s when they made contact. “We packed bags, we made the trek, we crossed the river at the best site.”

“Not hearing from her for so long, it really got to me.”

“Not hearing from her for so long, it really got to me,” explains Collazo with tears in his eyes. “It was getting to a point where I was constantly on social media trying to do whatever I could just to find out anything.”

Huertas-Martinez and her husband were some of the lucky ones who made it out of Puerto Rico. “Most of the roads in Utuado are full of debris, there’s so many people who can’t get out, elderly people, they can’t walk out.”

Rescue crews are making progress in San Juan and are now working their way inland. Utuado is about an hour and a half southwest of San Juan.

A New York Times article reports FEMA has installed 22 generators at hospitals and nursing homes. The Army Corps of Engineers is figuring out where to install 100 more, and 300 others are on the way.

About $28 million in aid has been approved for cities to use for things like debris removal. About 11 aid centers have been set up by Puerto Rico’s governor, to distribute food and water.

The Trump administration has been criticized for the response to Puerto Rico. FEMA officials say they are having more trouble in Puerto Rico because most of the roads were damaged or destroyed, but they were still passable in areas hit by Harvey and Irma.

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