Philly native living in Puerto Rico describes living through both Hurricanes Maria and Fiona

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hurricane Fiona is strengthening to a Category 4 hurricane as it heads to Bermuda. Meanwhile, residents in Puerto Rico are trying to cope with the catastrophic damage from the storm and officials are assessing the situation. 

Video taken from the air by the U.S. Coast Guard will help identify how and where federal and local agencies can help. 

Dozens of organizations and nonprofits in the region are mobilizing to help families as they try to recover.   

We’re also seeing new images on the ground from a Philadelphia native who is now living on the island. 

Eyewitness News spoke with a pastor who was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Camden but has now been through both Hurricanes Maria and Fiona while living in Puerto Rico. He says it finally stopped raining Tuesday night.

The water is receding in his town, but he says help is needed on the island big time. 

“A tree fell on top of the house, the cars are underwater,” Pastor David Rusi said. 

Rusi was driving around his small town of Cabo Rojo, on the West Coast of Puerto Rico. With a spotty signal, he was able to show CBS3 the roofs on the road blown off homes and power poles nearly bend in half. 

“So the last time we went through a hurricane, we were nine months without electricity so we’re praying it doesn’t happen again,” Rusi said. 

Rusi’s home sustained the wind from Hurricane Fiona, but living on the ocean he endured significant flooding.

“The eye wall literally came in through this town and it came out through the next town,” Rusi said. “At least for 24 hours trying to just keep the water out and make sure the windows did not break.”

Most of Puerto Rico remains without power and running water just five years after Hurricane Maria killed nearly 3,000 people on the island.

“Anything we can do to be able to support can make a difference,” Quetcy Lozada said. 

Now, more than 40 nonprofits across Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are uniting once again.

Unidos PA PR was formed after Maria and helped distribute more than $400,000 to people in need. This group is asking for donations once again.

“If we send money at least they can buy the things from the people there in Puerto Rico and circulate the money a little bit better.” Nilda Ruiz said. 

CBS3 is told that 100% of what gets donated will go to the island.

If you would like to help, you can text PRFIONA2022 to 44321 to donate.   

Rusi says Fiona’s flooding may be worse than Maria’s winds and members of his church lost practically everything.

“They lost basically all the insides of their home they have 4,5,6 feet of water in their home, so it’s really muddy,” Rusi said. 

This weekend the City of Philadelphia will celebrate the Puerto Rican Day Parade and we’re told there will be fundraising efforts to help families recover from the hurricane.