MN man searches for family in Puerto Rico

MN man searches for family in Puerto Rico

MINNEAPOLIS - Exactly a month has passed since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a category 4 storm. Roughly a million people are still without clean water and 60,000 homes have major roof damage, according to FEMA.

"So to see San Juan and see how devastated it was was kind of the preempt to what you were going to see when you got to the other parts," said AJ Santiago.

We first introduced you to AJ Santiago seven days after the Hurricane hit the island.

His sister Marylynn and her three children were missing after the storm. His family there had no communication with her.

The 11 year Army veteran raised funds to fly in to the capitol city of San Juan and perform his own search and after two days.

A long awaited reunion that Santiago captured on his phone.

"Devastation everywhere. I can help locate my family member and help pull them out of that," said Santiago.

He found his sister and her three children safe in an apartment building they had been living in going on ten days without enough food or proper drinking water.

The devastation on the island still sticks with him.

"Every tree you could see was stark naked. It looked like fall in Minnesota. No leaves. No vegetation. All the grass was brown. Electrical poles with rebar or reinforcements snapped or twirled in half or ripped out of the ground and thrown across the street," said Santiago.

Puerto Ricans still have many months even years ahead in the recovery phase and as the work continues Santiago and others alike hope the spotlight does not fade on an island that still needs so much help.

Santiago ended up bringing his sister and three kids back with him to Minnesota.

Unfortunately they were not available to talk with KARE 11 but he says what struck him most was the lack of food and water. And the people many who decided to help one another and others he witnessed literally fighting for food and water as US Marines were dropping it of via helicopter.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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