2 Midlands law enforcement officers say reaching family in Puerto Rico is difficult

2 Midlands law enforcement officers say reaching family in Puerto Rico is difficult

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Lexington Police Department is now accepting donations for anyone looking to help those in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The donations will help the family of one of their own. A K9 officer with the department who was born and raised in Puerto Rico says he hasn't been able to get in touch with his family on the island in weeks.

Officer Jonathan Garcia moved here to the U.S. with his family back in 1999, but several relatives are still living in Puerto Rico including his father. He says he hasn't had much communication with his family since Hurricane Maria, but from what he has heard, he says living conditions are unimaginable.

Corporal Raul Ortiz with the Richland County Sheriff's Department was born in the U.S., but also has a lot of his family still resides in Puerto Rico. He, too, recalls just how devastating hurricanes can be, recalling Hurricane George in 1998.

"I lived that, and that was no fun. We were without water for six months – no medication," Ortiz said.

Both men are now working to assist their families back on the island, but first, they have to get in touch with them.

"There's no way to contact anybody. Even some of the emergency numbers were down. I received one single text message from them about a week after Maria hit, and that's all I've gotten from them," Garcia said.

With most living without electricity or even water, Officer Garcia says basic needs are hard to come by.

"People not having food or running out of food," Garcia said. "Or the little food that they have is going bad because they don't have ice. So, that's the main thing that they need – food and water."

The Lexington Police Department is stepping in, collecting donations internally in hopes of providing Garcia's family in Puerto Rico with a generator.

The department is also accepting monetary and gift card donations from the public. You can d rop them off at the station on Maiden Lane through Oct. 6.

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