Bay Area Puerto Rican community using app to check on loved ones

- As Hurricane Irma slams through Puerto Rico, concerns are growing among the Puerto Rican community in the Bay Area worried for their loved ones back home. Some of them are using technology to stay connected relying on a free app to get updates.

Members of the Puerto Rican Civic Club in San Jose are hoping for the best, but fear the worst glued to their phones for any sign their families in Puerto Rico are safe.

“I’ve been running on about four hours sleep since last night,” said Maria Acevedo of San Jose. “This is not a joke. This is the biggest storm that we've ever seen if not the biggest ever.”

Acevedo is from Aguadilla, two hours from San Juan. She's in touch with her cousin Jose who snapped these photos of toppled trees and power lines. Much of the island is poverty stricken with houses made of wood that can't withstand heavy winds.

“Everytime a band hits the North Coast we are getting a lot of rain, winds, thunderstorms so a lot of power lines are down,” said Acevedo.

With no cell reception, she's staying connected with her cousin through a free app called Zello. Her phone serves as a walkie talkie, a two-way radio. It's reportedly the number one app in the app store because of Hurricane Irma.

“You want to be there to help whether it's boarding the windows or boarding doors,” said Kathryn Ramos of Santa Clara.

As these Puerto Rican natives monitor social media, they're on standby to send whatever help financial or supplies they can. They said, the next couple of hours are crucial.

“I’m sure some bridges will collapse, some roads are going to deteriorate,” said Johnny Saldivia, president of the Puerto Rican Civic Club President. “There's a lot of work to be done.”

The club said they're also concerned about their sister islands in the Caribbean and Florida. They’re already working on a fundraising event to raise money to help some of the victims of the hurricane.

For more information: www.puertoricancivicclub.org

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