NEW BEDFORD - The New Bedford Police Department has done it again with another donations drive to support those in Puerto Rico still suffering from Hurricane Maria's aftermath. The headquarters on Rockdale Avenue held the drive on Wednesday in partnership with the Bristol County Sherriff's Department and United New Bedford.

Wednesday's drive follows the largely successful drive in support of Hurricane Harvey victims in southeast Texas that was spearheaded by New Bedford Police Officer Donnie Williams, and may have had an even greater turnout. The drive is accepting food and water, clothing, money and other donations to ship to the people suffering in Maria's aftermath.

Officer Gene Fortes organized this particular drive and says he did so because of family that he and many other officers in the department have in Puerto Rico.

“This is affecting myself and many officers on the department,” Fortes explained. “We have approximately 25-30 officers that have been affected by this disaster in Puerto Rico with family, friends, and relatives that live out there.”

Fortes went on to share troubling news that came from his hometown in Puerto Rico, where a shortage of clean drinking water from the hurricane has resulted in desperation from the mayor of the town.

“I know in my town there's issues with water. Currently the mayor was asking for any donations, especially water because he was using pool water to supply the community, which is pretty difficult times,” Fortes said.

Another donator, Samuel Mohica, also has family suffering in Puerto Rico and says that he hasn't heard from them. He volunteered at the drive after dropping off his personal donations, and says that he last heard from his grandparents who contacted him from a hospital following the storm.

“I have family in Puerto Rico right now, family that I have not heard from that are suffering and are hungry. Mohica said. “Last thing I heard is that my grandparents are both in the hospital right now and they don't have any food. So hopefully this can not only help them but it can also help the rest of the island,” he said.

With such a massive turnout of donations to be shipped to Puerto Rico, Officer Fortes says the travel arrangements for the goods have yet to be figured out. He also says that monetary donations to the Police Department to assist with the shipping could provide them with tremendous help.


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