PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two days after Hurricane Maria hit, the entire island of Puerto Rico is still without power.
On Friday, Puerto Rican authorities scramble to evacuate as many as 70,000 people who are downstream of a failing dam and there’s almost no phone or internet service and almost no way to contact the more than 3 million people there.
“People have reached out to us through social media, ” said Gary Wilson, who work with the American Radio Relay League.
Wilson has the antenna outside the Delaware Valley Radio Association turned to Puerto Rico, after having some people in the greater Philadelphia area suddenly contact him for assistance.
They’re desperate, hoping to use two-way radios to reach loved ones in the ravaged region.
“There are tens of thousands of frequencies, so finding one in Puerto Rico right now is going to be hard,” Wilson explained. “The bulk of their communication is designed to talk with in Puerto Rico right now.”
Battery powered two-way radios have become the main form of communication on the the island through this disaster but it’s not recommended people here try to use it to talk with people in Puerto Rico.
“You want to know they’re OK, but more importantly don’t want to get in the way of those who are making them OK,” Wilson said.
Instead, his recommendation is to go to the Red Cross’s “Safe and Well” site.
It lists the names of everyone the relief group comes in contact with during this disaster.
“You can do a search, to see if the person you’re concerned about has registered,” Wilson said.
“The other thing I often tell people, having been involved with a number of disasters, is no news, is good news. More likely to hear about a casualty report quicker than somebody who is well.”
State Rep Angel Cruz says his office has been inundated with Philadelphians saying they can’t get in touch with loved ones in Puerto Rico and information on the devastation has been sparse.
“We have no communication with Puerto Rico because the towers are down but we will put all of our emphasis together to raise money so when we have communication and they call us to say this is what we need we are ready able and capable of giving them the monies that they need to get whatever it is we need in Puerto Rico. not sit around and wait for the last minute.
In addition to raising funds representative Cruz would like to house storm refugees here in Philadelphia, perhaps in closed school buildings. He is collecting information from families on Puerto Ricans who want to relocated temporarily to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, the City of Philadelphia has released the following statement regarding in-taking displaced victims of Hurricane Maria.
“The Mayor is committed to supporting relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. There has been no federal request for support, or plans that identify Philadelphia as a relocation or intake site. City government is actively monitoring developments, and prepared to provide assistance via a federal declaration in coordination with Governor Wolf and FEMA”
Representitive Cruz is encouraging everyone to go out to Philadlephia’s Puerto Rican parade on Sunday starting at noon along the Benjamin Franklin parkway to show support for those displaced by the Hurricane.
Both CBS 3’s Alicia Nieves and KYW Newsradio’s John McDevitt contributed to this story.