Maegan and Haniel Santiago and parnets Russ and Priscilla Reid during an easier time in the Santiago’s lives. Photo contributed

Shuswap residents step up for family in Puerto Rico

Mara Landing caretakers grateful for fundraising effort for their kids

A month has passed since Hurricane Maria wreaked devastation on Puerto Rico, thrusting the U.S. territory into an ongoing state of emergency.

Since then, thousands have left the crippled U.S. island of roughly 3.4 million people for the mainland. Haniel and Maegan Santiago, however, are holding out, helping family members and hoping that things will improve.

Maegan is the daughter of Russ and Priscilla Reid of Sicamous. The two are caretakers for the Mara Landing condominium complex. Familiar with the Reid’s, their family in Puerto Rico and the troubles that have continued there since Maria, Mara Landing resident Peter Moxness decided to see about helping out.

RELATED: Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica

“I approached the rest of our strata council and said, ‘Are you guys all game, can we proceed?’” said Moxness. Soon after, a fundraising page was set up on gofundme, encouraging other Mara Landing property owners to lend a hand.

“They presently have food and water, their home was not destroyed, but all their employment income has stopped, and their money is running low,” states a letter to Mara Landing owners on the GoFundMe page. “Personal safety, basic infrastructure, and delays in restoring both are the current issue. Because Russ and Priscilla are employed by us, perhaps there is something that we can do!”

As of Monday afternoon, 31 people had donated more than $3,000 to the Santiagos. Russ said this generosity has given Maegan and Haniel something Puerto Ricans aren’t currently accustomed to receiving from the U.S. – hope.

“In the midst of all that’s going on, particularly with the Puerto Rican people – they’ve always felt they’re second-class American citizens – and the non-response of mainland America has reflected that that’s the truth…,” said Reid. “My children, who are fluent in both Spanish and English that live in Puerto Rico, they feel like no one cares. So when someone does something like a gofundme account, what it does is it gives them hope… somebody cares, that things could get better and that they’re going to be able to manage.”

Reid said Maegan, 30, moved to Puerto Rico six years ago. She and her husband, Haniel, 33, were both in the later stages of their post-secondary degrees when the island was impacted by back-to-back hurricanes. First there was Irma, which grazed the island but caused damage none the less. Then there was Maria, which resulted in 49 confirmed deaths, as well as mass devastation of homes and infrastructure, including the island’s power grid which remains inoperable.

Reid said Maegan is in her final year of a civil engineering degree, while Haniel has a year-and-a-half to go for a degree in architecture. They’re hoping the school they attend will be back in operation instead of facing the challenges of trying to continue their education on the mainland.

“When you’re a student, especially in your fourth year, you’re in the end of it and those courses are only offered at certain times,” said Reid. “For them to try to move back to the mainland and try to re-establish is crazy.”

Also, Reid said Maegan and Haniel are keeping busy helping other family members who live on the island whose lives were also turned upside down by the hurricanes.

“So this go-fundme account is basically helping them try to stay on the island as long as they can and if the school doesn’t open in the next four weeks, then they have to seriously consider what their future will hold,” said Reid.

Also grateful for the gofundme effort, Reid is dismayed by the U.S. response so far to provide aid to Puerto Rico.

“One of the sad things about the island is – they’re American citizens. To go to the grocery store, there’s no milk, there’s no eggs, there’s no meat, there’s no fresh produce. Nothing. Because there’s not power to keep things cool…,” said Reid, who describes Puerto Ricans as people who don’t complain, work very hard and are resourceful with very little.

“I think if the American government decided to say, ‘We’re out, you’re on your own,’ they would say, ‘Good, sign the papers and leave.’ Because they’re so limited with what they can and can’t do relative to bringing products to the island. It’s hard to believe but minimum wage in Puerto Rico is $7.25 an hour,” said Reid, adding 45 per cent of Puerto Ricans live below the poverty line. “We’re acutely aware of the relationship Puerto Rico has had and continues to have with mainland America. So much of it depends on their president and this president (Donald Trump) is – unique at best would be a polite way of putting it.”

The Mara Landing gofundme account is open to anyone, and Moxness and Reid welcome any help others might be willing and able to provide.


@SalmonArm
lachlan@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Update: Gas leak near Gary Moe car dealership in Lacombe is under control

Emergency responders remain on scene at 4450 Highway 12; no injuries reporter

AHS improving Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre with $3.1 million renovation

Renovation of local emergency department set to begin

REVIEW: Cow Patti Theatre’s The Odd Couple delivers in Lacombe

Neil Simon’s classic portrayed masterfully by Lacombe dinner theatre

Lacombe Chamber celebrates 7th year of Passport to Christmas

77 Lacombe businesses taking part in shop local holiday initiative

Lacombe Seniors Bonspiel a success once again

There is already a waiting list for 2019

WATCH: Urban chicken coops a great source for community

Fafards have zero problems with urban hens during pilot project

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Mistrial declared in Dennis Oland’s retrial in father’s murder

The verdict from Oland’s 2015 murder trial was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a new trial ordered. Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

Most Read