Local Salvation Army staffers head to Puerto Rico to aid relief efforts

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Salvation Army to send local staffers to Puerto Rico: John Rawlins reports on Action News at 5 p.m., Sept. 26, 2017 (WPVI)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez have helped eight Salvation Army staffers secure seats on an American Airlines flight to Puerto Rico Wednesday.

The Salvation Army has an existing operation on the island, so they are taking the lead in the response effort.

"This is a dire situation," said Major Tom Duperre with the Salvation Army. "Getting supplies to them is critical right now."

The Salvation Army has an estimated 150 staffers home based in Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria hit, they have been feeding and providing shelter to an estimated 14,000 people a day.

"They are working with the resources they already had on hand," said Duperre. "But as you can imagine, when the island has been locked up for so long, the resources begin to run dry."

Getting supplies to the Island is a major issue right now, with damage to roads and other infrastructure including airports.

"The radar system is down, there are no flights at night, it presents huge logistical difficulties," said Phil Pagliaro with the Salvation Army.

The eight staffers traveling from Philadelphia are the first of many expected to go to the island.

Eventually the Salvation Army expects goods donated by the public will be shipped to those who have lost so much, but for now the best gift from the public is money for critical needs.

"Help is needed in the form of monetary donations right now," said Duperre. "We need monetary gifts to be able to respond in a split second."

Interested in helping the relief effort? You can make a donation at the Salvation Army's website.

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philadelphia newshurricane mariasalvation armymayor jim kenney
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