Pontiac man & Puerto Rico native: country still needs help after Maria

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Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power in Puerto Rico.  Thousands more are still trying to repair their lives after Hurricane Maria hit the region in September.
As a new death toll hovers near the 4,000 mark, Puerto Rican natives here in Michigan are hoping you will help.

"Doctors and nurses at hospitals had to leave because the dead people that were in the hospital, they couldn't get them out. And they were afraid they would get sick themselves," said Hector Martinez.

That's how bad it was in the days after the storm. Martinez first went to his native Puerto Rico five days after Hurricane Maria hit last September. 

His childhood home was still there, but the house next door was flattened by Maria's massive might. Right now there more than 200,000 in Puerto Rico without power. Still his family was deeply affected.

"My entire family is there," he said. "My mom, siblings, grandma, brothers and sisters, nephews, cousins, you know 90 percent of my family still there."

Still there, even though the eyes of the nation aren't. 

The death toll was first reported as just over 60. That was disturbing to anyone who had boots on the ground. Martinez is a firefighter with the Waterford Regional Fire Department.

The Pontiac resident knew the number just didn't seem to fit the dire devastation Maria brought.  

FOX 2: "Did it surprise you when the death toll went up to more than 4,000?" 

"It surprised me how low it was to begin with," Martinez said. "That was surprising. Immediately I assumed that somebody didn't do their research."

Martinez has made two trips to help not just his family -  but strangers who were suffering. They still need all the help they can get.  

"Everybody ran out," Martinez said. "The Home Depot, the Walmart, every store ran out of stuff. Not only did they need help but they needed the tools to help themselves because it was hard to get it there."

Martinez and other Puerto Rican's are reminding Americans that they too are American. Common knowledge that seems lost.  

"We fight our wars, we are here. We vote, we pay taxes and we are part of the economy," he said. "We are integrated every single way.

Visit the website www.detroit4puertorico.org; Detroit4puertorico on Facebook; or twitter@det4pr for more information on how to support a $200,000 fundraising initiative.