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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Donation drives continue throughout South Florida to help victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, as people from the island fly here to escape the harsh conditions back home.

“I feel hopeless,” said Milagros Bonilla after arriving in Miami from her native Puerto Rico. “I don’t have water. I don’t have electricity. There’s no food. I’m legally bind. I was in crisis. And my son went to get me.”

Bonilla is one of the hundreds of people who flew in to Miami International Airport from Puerto Rico to stay with relatives as the country looks to rebuild.

puerto rico relief American Airlines, Local Drives Send Supplies To Puerto Rico

Dozens in Miami come together to aid in relief efforts for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. (Source: CBS4)

“I can’t be over there. It’s terrible, terrible, a really bad experience,” said Hilda Rodriguez Graniela, who also came to stay with relatives.

For those staying behind, help is on the way. A number of collection drives are taking place throughout South Florida including one in Downtown Miami at a CrossFit gym.

“We are bringing in items for Puerto Rico because there’s a need and the island is devastated and this is a small way we can contribute,” said Jennifer Garcia, who stopped by to donate some items.

American Airlines is holding “Operation Puerto Rico Strong” which allows its employees to send one generator and a box of 150 lbs of supplies free of charge to relatives on the island. Sandra Alvarado, who’s been with the company for 26 years, is sending canned goods, medicine and water to her brother and sister.

“It was like from 7 a.m. all the way to 12 midnight packing the boxes and getting them ready for our family,” said Alvarado.

American Airlines says Operation Puerto Rico Strong continues through Friday. Those supplies are being flown in on a daily basis.


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