CHICAGO (CBS) — Congressman Luis Gutierrez was on his way back to Puerto Rico on Wednesday, on his second relief trip after Hurricane Maria, bringing money donated by Chicagoans for storm survivors.
Gutierrez had at least two suitcases and a large box of supplies he was personally bringing to his family in Puerto Rico, but he also had $60,000 donated to help hurricane victims.
“I’m paying for my own ticket, and the transportation. We’ve just got a car rental, and so we’re keeping the overhead to nothing. So every dollar that people have contributed is a dollar that’s going to be spent actually delivering food and medicine,” he said at O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday.
The congressman said he’ll use the entire $60,000 to purchase emergency supplies like water, nutritional drinks, diapers, and more; and have it trucked to two mountain towns.
Gutierrez said he also had an additional $15,000 in cash to distribute to different towns.
“People need cash,” he said. “People have really been isolated. Food isn’t getting there. Medicine isn’t getting there. Water isn’t getting there,”
The congressman said power has been restored to only 20 percent of Puerto Rico in nearly than a month since Maria hit. Even that service is spotty, and fewer than half the island has drinkable water available on a regular basis.
Gutierrez visited Puerto Rico for several days in September to survey the damage from Maria, visit family, and bring back his nieces and nephews so they can attend Chicago Public Schools while the island recovers. He also has organized a number of planeloads of supplies delivered to San Juan to be distributed on the island.