Little power, no water, washed out roads, and lots of debris.
Those are the conditions in Puerto Rico that caught the attention of Wetzel County native Elijah Hostuttler.
Eager to help, he headed south with the Red Cross, but he also had a personal reason to go.
“Volunteering for Puerto Rico was for very intimate reasons, maybe than different from others. I grew up in Wetzel County, but my mother is from Puerto Rico. So, when the storms hit, I just felt a calling inside to go down and help,” Hostuttler said.
Hostuttler spent 6 weeks on the island reuniting families and handing out much-needed supplies.
Even though he had an amazing experience, it was also hard at times.
“The first couple weeks I was in Puerto Rico, we would show up, especially in the mountains, to a community where there had not been any disaster relief. We would be the first people in that neighborhood. It was a lot of tears. There were times where I’d knock on a door and my job for the next 20 minutes was to hold a lady while she cried,” Hostuttler said.
Despite seeing the heartbreak, Hostuttler told 7News he had a great time.
He had the chance to help hundreds of people, including his own family, and it’s all thanks to the Red Cross.
“The people that have their hands in the mix and are getting dirty, the American Red Cross. It was quite an amazing experience,” Hostuttler said.
The Red Cross, government officials and disaster partners are doing what they can, but officials confirm it will still be several months before power is fully restored across the U.S. territory.
Of course, if you would still like to help, officials said volunteering locally would do the trick.
More volunteers here, means more hands freed up to head South and help.