NEW YORK —Joann Garcia’s story is one of many.
"We were devastated in New York because we have so much family there and we didn’t know about anything with anybody," Garcia said.
Since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, she says all she could do was pray until she got word about the condition of her loved ones, including her 77-year-old aunt Maria Santana, who is legally blind.
"It was a horrible, horrible, horrible condition. The trees were falling. I prayed to the Lord — why, why, why is this happening ... all this water," asked Santana.
Thankfully, Garcia was able to get her aunt on a plane to New York.
"When she got to my house she was crying and crying. I asked her why are you crying and she said because I see the light. I had no light," Garcia said.
Because most of her possessions were destroyed in the hurricane, there’s a lot Maria needs, from clothing to health care.
They showed up at a service center set up by NYC Emergency Management in upper Manhattan, hoping they could help.
"This is a one-stop shop for people who are relocating from storm-affected regions. They’re coming with a variety of needs. These are families, these are folks that are elderly, they need to sign kids up for school, they need help with health insurance," said Chris Pagnotta, who forks for the agency.
Pagnotta said the center was created to make things easier for storm survivors. Instead of trekking around the city to meet with different agencies, they can come to one place to request the services they need.
"There are people with disabilities ... they need different types of adaptive equipment. They might need wheelchairs. We can look to valued partners like Adapt Community Network to fill those needs," Pagnotta said.
For Garcia and her aunt, it was a home run at the center.
"They’ve been wonderful, wonderful. They gave her all the services; they even gave her a wheelchair, a new wheelchair," Garcia said.
And they’re looking forward to tomorrow.
"She is blind so I am going help her and give her a lot of love," Garcia said of her aunt.