CUNY Puerto Rico Volunteers

Mack Rosenberg/WCBS 880

CUNY Students Prepare To Go To Puerto Rico For Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts

June 12, 2018 - 2:21 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- Two hundred City University of New York students were preparing to leave for Puerto Rico Tuesday to volunteer in Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

"These students are levelheaded about this service project," WCBS 880's Mack Rosenberg told Steve Scott and Michael Wallace. "They've seen the images of devestation in Puerto Rico - they understand it on that level. They also get that what they see when they get to Puerto Rico might be very different from what they've heard and seen back here at home."

The goal for the students is simple – play a small part and do what they can to help eight months after Hurricane Maria.

"[The head instructor of the trip> said that the effort of these students is kind of like a river," Rosenberg said. "Everyone is a small drop, some drops may reverberate stronger than others, but ultimately it's a team effort. And when you connect those drops it can make a positive change."

Rosenberg had the opportunity to speak to a few students personally.

Mayra Rosa lost her grandmother in the hurricane, and said people need to understand the devastation on the island nation.

“People focus on the beauty of Puerto Rico and not the reality of Puerto Rico, so you see on television, you see all the beautiful beaches and the ocean and the green and the landmarks, but you don’t see the poverty,” she said.

Two hundred students will travel to Puerto Rico, with groups of forty going at a time. The first group of students will depart on Sunday.

About nine months after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Puerto Rico is now embarking on another hurricane season, posing a possible risk for students on this service trip.

President Donald Trump's administration has been criticized by opponents for its handling of the hurricane's aftermath; for instance, eight months later, full power has yet to be restored. A recent study from Harvard University estimated there were 4,645 deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria over three months, although some independent experts questioned the methods and the number in that study.

The official federal death toll is at 64.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)