Doctor returns from aid mission in Puerto Rico; says communities are staying strong

Dr. Roosa and his team worked to try and help the devastated U.S. territory but noted the island still has a long way to go.

KUSA - A local doctor was part of a team that deployed to Puerto Rico to help with disaster there after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory.

Dr. Jason Roosa recently returned from that trip and explained to 9NEWS what his team did to help and how people there are working to remain strong despite the tragedy.

Roosa, one of many people sent to the island to help, spent three weeks there helping those in need.

“We got to see San Juan and it was pretty beat up, but the main thing that was out of the ordinary was the lack of power and it was strange to see a city without street lights," said Roosa. "We were in a roving team going town to town and checking on people and doing warfare checks and things like that."

He said what struck him the most were the numbers of roads closed because of mudslides after the heavy rain.

“So as they would open roads, we would get access to different areas and we would go in and check on folks and people with chronic medical conditions and people with family members who were bed bound and we would go in a check on them,” he said.

The majority of the people his team saw were those with previous medical conditions who needed medication refills.

“A lot of diabetes, high blood pressure, who couldn't get to the pharmacy to get their meds or they were out,” Roosa explained.

Before leaving, Roosa and his team prepared themselves to see the worst, but he said what stood out was how positive people were despite the situation.

“They were dealing with it quite well; taking care of their family members who had chronic medical conditions and taking care of them at home with low resources,” he said.

He said seeing people with no cell service and electricity remaining strong made him realize what we sometimes take for granted.

“Just seeing that some of the things we see as necessities are actually luxuries and the actual necessities are our families and the neighborhoods, and that mentality is alive in Puerto Rico and the rural towns were in," he said.

Roosa clarified that he got back last week, but Puerto Rico still has a long way to go until fully recovered. He added that while he was there even though there was no electricity, they had fuel brought to run generators so a lot of the local restaurants were still able to function they were able to contribute to the local economy.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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