Nine members of Emily Aponte’s family, displaced by the flooding in Puerto Rico, are coming to Grand Island. For their move to turn out well for everyone, they need a lot of help.
Aponte spent $1,217 on plane tickets for the group. But she doesn’t have much money herself. And the people coming have a great need for clothing, disposable diapers and other necessities.
The group includes a 2-year-old and two babies who are two months old.
Aponte, 41, has avoided paying her bills to pay the airfare. A man gave her $20 to buy gasoline to drive to Omaha Wednesday to pick up the first three members of the group. The other six will fly into Omaha Oct. 3. She needs gas money for two vehicles to make that trip.
Floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria wrecked the lives of Aponte’s relatives.
“They lost their house. They lost everything. They don’t have clothes, shoes — nothing,” she said.
Like much of Puerto Rico, they don’t have electricity.
Aponte is hoping that Grand Islanders will donate clothes and food — for both babies and adults. The group is in need of No. 1 and No. 4 disposable diapers. Aponte would also like a crib, blankets and coats. Temperatures in Puerto Rico are warm. But in Nebraska, winter is coming.
The Puerto Ricans also need a place to stay.
“Everyone who can help me — I really, really appreciate it,” she said.
Donations for Aponte’s family are being accepted at St. Leo’s Catholic Church, 2410 Blaine St.
The people coming to Grand Island — probably permanently — are leaving homes behind in Canovanas, Puerto Rico.
Wednesday night in Omaha, Aponte will pick up her 21-year-old son, Wilfredo Rivera, his wife, Lia, 16, and their son, Jedyn, who was born July 24.
On Oct. 3, Aponte will welcome her 19-year-old daughter, Magda, her husband, Carlos Ayala, and their two children. Julian is 2 years old and his sister, Emilianys, was born July 25. Also coming are Aponte’s daughter, Rose, and her husband, Jose Filomino.
So far, Aponte has received $100 donations from two Grand Island restaurants — Tommy’s and Mariscos Villarreal. She’s also gotten clothing from St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Four of the adults want to get jobs in Grand Island, Aponte said. Donna Douglass at St. Leo’s has a lead on a job for Aponte’s son.
Aponte has lived in Grand Island since April 2016. Also living in Grand Island are her daughter, Katia Marquez, and her two children.
In addition to preparing to welcome people bound for Grand Island, Aponte is busy sending items to relatives still in Puerto Rico. That includes her 70-year-old mother, who has diabetes.
The people in Puerto Rico need batteries for fans and flashlights, food, mosquito repellent and other items. She also sends her mother diabetes medication.
On the news Aponte saw that one person shot another for gasoline.
“So it’s very dangerous to be in Puerto Rico,” she said.
Aponte receives Social Security disability benefits because she has scoliosis, sciatica, diabetes and high blood-pressure. She can’t take in many of her relatives because she lives in Section 8 housing. She also receives SNAP assistance.
Aponte is not looking for monetary donations, but is worried about her bills. Because of her relatives’ needs, she has put off paying for her rent, electricity and cable.
Aponte’s phone number is (308) 383-5176.