By TimesLedger staff
As Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million residents struggle to find food, water and shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Queens is trying to do its part in the relief efforts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo set up the The Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico to enroll civic, business and industry leaders in a joint drive to provide medical services, funds and supplies to the devastated island. The governor is calling for donations such as batteries, flashlights, portable lanterns, diapers, cases of water and feminine hygiene products from people and groups across the city and the state.
The state effort is also working with the Partnership for New York City to encourage businesses to contribute at least $10,000 to be given out to local Puerto Rican charities.
Cuomo flew to Puerto Rico last Friday at the invitation of the island’s governor to see the damage first hand on JetBlue, the Long Island City-based airline, which furnished two charter flights filled with relief workers and supplies. The airport at San Juan was still not fully functioning.
Jennifer Lopez, the singer and actress, is co-chairing New York’s efforts to aid Puerto Ricans, who are spread out across the city with large numbers living in Spanish Harlem. In Queens, the Puerto Rican population is concentrated in the Ridgewood area.
“Lives have been lost. Power is down across the entire island,” said Lopez, a Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent, Sunday night. “More than 15,000 people have been forced into shelters and the storm has devastated the lives of thousands.”
The New York Mets were collecting donations from fans at Citi Field on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the following two non-game days.
The Fire Department announced three drop-off sites in Queens for donations:
• Engine 316: 27-12 Kearney St., East Elmhurst (11369)
Engine 289/ Ladder 138: 97-28 43rd Ave., Corona (11368)
Engine 307/ Ladder 154: 81-17 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights (11372)
* Borough residents can drop off items that appear on the list of needed supplies at the Jamaica Street Armory at 93-05 168th St.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was preparing to send 70 emergency responders to Puerto Rico. The personnel will help to restore airport services, reopen port commerce and take part in search-and-rescue operations.