Carly Rivera runs VB Rags and the VB Rags VB Academy club in New Jersey. But VB Rags used to be in Puerto Rico.
“All of my family members made it through the storm, although most of them suffered property losses of varying degrees,” Rivera said. “It is the aftermath of the storm that has really impacted everyone in Puerto Rico.”
Rivera moved his family and VB Rags late in 2012 “because the island has been going through a series of financial challenges for at least 10 years now.”
Hurricanes Irma and Maria have made the island’s fate exponentially worse.
“Unfortunately, most of the island is having a very difficult time communicating internally and externally, given most cell towers went down during the storm.”
So they’ve been dealing with it from afar. Rivera said the father of one of the VB Rags players in New Jersey works for Allergan, a bio-pharmaceutical company that has operations in Puerto Rico.
“The company flew its jet to the island earlier this week to bring supplies to its employees on the island. They were kind enough to make space for my father-in-law to come to New Jersey on the way back from Puerto Rico,” Rivera said. “My father in law, who needed important care, arrived safely in New Jersey thanks to Allergan’s humanitarian effort in support of the people of Puerto Rico.”
But, he pointed out, “Thousands of my fellow Puerto Ricans are not as fortunate and are waiting at the airport in San Juan hoping to get to their families in the U.S. mainland as soon as possible. In many cases, the wait has been for several days.”
The Puerto Rican men’s pro league had just kicked off when the hurricanes hit. All recreational activities, volleyball included, have been postponed indefinitely.
“The lack of power and lack of communication has resulted in a catastrophe where, in best cases, people are having to wait in lines for hours every day so they can buy the fuel needed to run their generators,” Rivera said. “In the worst cases there are people dying due to lack of urgent care in some of the hospitals due to lack of power.
“A major issue has been some of the aid that has arrived in Puerto Rico has not found its way to those in need because of a breakdown in logistics. Distributing the goods to the people in need has been a challenge.”
Rivera, of course, wants to help.
“At this point it really depends on the local authorities’ ability to distribute any supplies being shipped to those in need,” he said. “This nightmare will take years to fix so we hope those who are now eager to help still will want to help once the situation has been somewhat stabilized.
“I will be talking to all my volleyball friends on the island as soon as communication has been re-established.”