LORAIN, Ohio — Destruction remains in Puerto Rico more than two years after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. As a result, supplies are in high demand for families who lost everything, but one group in Northeast Ohio is helping by collecting donations in Lorain.
The Latin American Motorcycle Association (LAMA) of Lorain started the passion project nearly two months ago. Since then, the group has sent seven shipments full of supplies to Puerto Rico. On Saturday, they gathered at the Sacred Heart Chapel to organize and pack their eighth shipment.
Paper towels, batteries and hand sanitizer are just some of the items the group is shipping off to the island.
"Most of us are Puerto Rican, so know it’s in our hearts," said LAMA Lorain President, Elizabeth Toro.
Toro, who is known as "Bee Gee," said her family is one of the families desperately in need of help despite receiving donations nationwide in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
"When I came out with this idea I said we’re not sending it to the government. We’re not sending it to even Red Cross," Toro said. "My family was like 'We’re not getting nothing.' My sister, a family of four, was like 'I’m getting a gallon a day of water for four people and we don’t know if we have to use it for either drinking ,cooking or showering.'"
Toro's allies with their Isabela, Puerto Rico chapter told News 5 over the phone that families are still struggling.
"I really don’t know how they survived. I experienced Maria myself and it was devastating, but this is totally different going to the towns and seeing their businesses and homes destroyed. It’s very bad," said Marilyn Arbelo with LAMA Isabela.
Arbelo said her team is set to receive the supplies from Lorain and distribute them directly to those in need.
"Juncos and Guánica are the towns that were affected and so we are trying to target those areas," Arbelo said. "What we do, we try to go on the bikes, the motorcycles, so we can reach more people."
Toro said their mission is working one box at a time.
"Knowing that we are able to help the people that are in need on that island is heartwarming it’s big for us," Toro said.
News 5 was told Saturday's shipment will be sent out on Wednesday. Toro said they have a partnership with Delta Airlines to help with shipment. Her team plans to continue collecting donations until there is no longer a need in Puerto Rico.