Activist on long road to recovery for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

Nov 9, 2017

Local activist Chito Olivencia is off to Puerto Rico Thursday, to bring more supplies and see what more local supporters can do to help an island hammered by two hurricanes.

Olivencia has been there before, helping out during this summer's hurricanes and in past storms. He is a retired public employee locally with a house - made of concrete and hurricane-strength windows - in Hormigueros,located in the western portion of Puerto Rico.

His home remains intact and the area has both electricity and water. However, two doors down, a wooden house was blown away by the wind.

"Right now, we've got our lives and we're living better than a lot of people," Olivencia said. "So we that are living better, we got to go help the rest of the community that needs help and I've done that all my life and I'm going to do it now. We're going to help a lot of people that really need help."

Olivencia said Puerto Rico handled the first hurricane well, but was then overwhelmed by another two weeks later. He said recovery will be slow.

Supplies on their way to Puerto Rico in October.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"Rome wasn't built in a day and Puerto Rico is not going to be built in a month or two," he said. "Do you remember the ice storm here October, 11 years ago? I worked that storm. We worked 16-17 hours a day from October to after New Year's. That was four months. A lot of people here in Buffalo and Erie County didn't have lights. We kind of forgot about that. Or the Blizzard of '77 when we were stuck underneath the snow."

Olivencia said he is going to move out of his current home in Puerto Rico - an area which is functioning - and look for areas in worse shape that he can help.