Donations pour in as Bay Area Puerto Ricans worry about family back home

- It has been two long days for those in the Bay Area who are worried about loved ones in Puerto Rico.

Right now, phone systems are down across the island, leaving the rest of the world to wonder how everyone is doing.

People are especially worried about those with medical issues and who haven't been heard from since the storm hit.

Even as they wait for the phone to ring, they're trying to bring our community together to help those in desperate need.

Seven hours after she sent word on Facebook that donations would be accepted at her office on N. Himes Ave., Jennifer Alonso stood in front of hundreds of pounds of supplies.

The room had been empty just that morning.

"We have had 70-80 people come by, it has been incredible," Alonso said.

Organizing this is about the only thing she can do to distract herself from 

"We said we were worried at first," she said. "Worry turned into great concern. And now, we are in the panic mode."

Her 41-year-old cousin has diabetes and requires constant treatment. No one knows if she's getting it.

"We are not sure if she has been able to reach a shelter," said Alonso. "That is nerve-racking because she has an illness that if not treated, could become fatal."

With cell towers down, people like Tampa restaurant owner Nilsa Garcia have been reduced to listening to radio broadcasts from the island.

"All the roads are gone," she said. "They need the necessities, and they need water."

She is waiting to hear from five family members. Several had planned to shelter in local churches.

"I even text them in case they can't use the phone but they can get a text," she said. "They haven't answered me."

She is planning a fundraiser at her restaurant, while people like Alonso have already started gathering supplies. The waiting is agonizing but has not sapped their spirit.

"I think everything is fine," said Garcia. "But they just can't get to us. So let's hope and wait."

For information on the supply donation dropoff, visit http://bit.ly/2wKoxgN.

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