Rotarians Travel to Moca, Puerto Rico to Offer Hurricane Relief

Turning destruction into a construction site (c) 2018 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

Paula GIlarde (c) with other Rotarians on the Moca mission – Courtesy image (c) 2018 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Paula Gilarde, a member of the Rotary Club of Bedford, traveled to Puerto Rico on February 2nd, with other Rotarians from District 7910.

Members of the Liberty, NY Rotary Club; Operation Endeavor; and Wings of Michael joined in the hurricane relief mission.

The Rotary team was based in Moca, a municipality in the northwest corner of the island that was one of the hardest-hit areas of the nearly-Category 5 hurricane.



The purpose of the mission was to aid in reconstruction, to distribute flu and tetanus vaccinations and to provide toys for children. Relief efforts on the ground were coordinated by Nelson Quinones, president of the Moca Rotary Club.

Scenes of storm destruction remained, months after Hurricane Maria – Courtesy image (c) 2018 all rights reserved – Click to view a larger image

The group spent part of the first day surveying damage to various homes and roads. Despite the fact that Hurricane Maria hit the island over four months earlier, many homes still had temporary roofs (blue tarps provided by FEMA) and some roads remained impassable because bridges had been swept away by the force of the floods.

In addition to delivering relief supplies to residents undertaking re-construction, the group assisted in the transformation of one disaster site into a construction site.

The destruction at Don Luis’s home – Courtesy image (2018) all rights reserved – Click to view a larger image

Since Don Luis’ entire home was demolished in the hurricane, he has been living in a shack, adjacent to what remains of his house. He has no running water, or electricity, as he attempts to rebuild. (Photo Don Luis construction)

Another relief recipient included a mother of two young children who had lost her entire home and now rents a house in a very rural area without running water or electricity, apart from a generator. The electrical system in Puerto Rico is very fragile and in some rural areas, practically non-existent. “Hearing the personal stories and seeing where they were living post-hurricane, was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Paula Gilarde on her return.

Another major part of the project was supplying the vaccine and immunizing people against the flu, and tetanus where needed. This project was coordinated with local Moca resident, Dr. Soto. 500 flu shots were administered on Sunday morning after Masses in five different parishes. People were turned away because there were not enough vaccines.

Toys were distributed to children on Sunday after the Masses in the more rural locations. The children were able to choose a toy from age-appropriate selections and they were thrilled to get the unexpected gift!

There’s still a lot more work yet to be done. June, and the start of the hurricane season is only a few months away. Fundraising for the mission is ongoing as another group will be headed to Puerto Rico to continue the relief work. 100% of all funds raised will be donated to the Moca Rotary Club to purchase and distribute supplies to those families in need.

How to Donate:
Make check payable to Rotary District 7910 Charity Fund
In memo line put: Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico
Mail Checks to:
PDG James Fusco
192 Bridle Cross Road Fitchburg, MA 01420

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: or 781-325-8606

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