MILTON, Ga. — Milton High School mom Liz Blanks anxiously awaited to hear from her family in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory on Sept. 20. With the destruction at catastrophic levels on the island, an update on her family’s safety wouldn’t come for more than a week after Maria made landfall.
The good news was her family, which includes her parents, siblings and cousins, were safe. The bad news was they would be dealing with what Banks called “years before there is any sense of normalcy.”
With the ravages to the island, Banks said her family was dealing with many things we take for granted. The clean water they wait in long lines to receive is used for drinking and cooking. To clean clothes and bathe, they have been forced to collect rainwater.
So Banks, Milton athletic director Gary Sylvestri and the school’s Parent Teacher Organization put out on social media that the school would be accepting water donations. The water would be shipped directly to the territory with Marietta restaurant Buen Provecho providing a cargo plane.
Word quickly spread, and when donations were tallied on Oct. 13, the last day of contributions, the school had gathered nearly 800 cases of clean, bottled water. The collection effort included four weekdays where the school was not in session.
“We put the word out and suddenly it was 100 cases, the next day it was 200, and it just kept growing from there,” Sylvestri said.
Blanks said she had received donations all the way from Chicago, Connecticut and Delaware.
So while Puerto Rico continues to deal with the cleanup and challenges presented by Maria, the Milton community has shown its support for the island’s residents, Blanks said.
The water donations will be shipped this week.