2 members of Pa Task Force-1 deploy to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona

This story originally appeared on 6abc. 

Two members of Pennsylvania Task Force-1 have been deployed after Puerto Rico was slammed by Hurricane Fiona.

Ken Pagurek is a Philadephia Fire Department captain and program manager for PA Task Force 1.

“There are reports of significant amount of damage. Bridges out. Power outage,” said Pagurek at Philadelphia International Airport before his departure to San Juan.

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Pagurek will serve as part of a federal incident support team.

Sponsored by the Philadelphia Fire Department, PA Task Force 1 is one of 28 teams that are part of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System, a federal resource that can quickly be mobilized to anywhere in the country.

“We will go there, and effect rescues, evacuate people as needed,” Pagurek said.

Pagurek explained they will be better able to determine needs when they arrive.

Fiona comes nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Irma had hit just weeks prior. Pagurek also deployed then.

“I hope that I can go down there and represent the citizens of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth appropriately,” Pagurek said.

Meanwhile community leaders are on the phone with families in Puerto Rico, trying to determine how to best get aid to those who need it.

Former city council member Maria Quinones-Sanchez, who announced her run for mayor, said she’s particularly concerned with the elderly who live alone.

“Puerto Rican civic leaders have been on the phones over the last couple of days- everyone’s talking, monitoring what’s going on,” Quinones-Sanchez said. “We went through Maria. We went through COVID. We know people will die if we don’t activate ourselves so we’re very concerned about that.”

Charito Morales, a community advocate and nurse who is from Puerto Rico but now lives in Philadelphia, is also helping to gather aid.

To help donate, you can contact Morales at (215) 847-0256. You can also email info@phillyboricua.org.

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