Puerto Ricans in Colorado help in island’s recovery one year after Hurricane Maria

DENVER -- Thursday marks one year since Category 4 Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, devastating the island.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm caused $90 billion worth of damage.

According to the Puerto Rican government, there were 2,975 storm-related deaths.

After the powerful storm hit, people from the U.S. jumped into action to help.

That included members of the Denver community. Today they said there is still a lot of work to do to help the island recover.

Juan Padro’s family is from Puerto Rico. Padro lives in Denver where he is a restaurateur.

He’s behind several restaurants in the Denver metro area, including Bar Dough, Senor Bear, Highland Tap and Burger and Tap and Burger Sloan’s Lake.

He says after the storm hit, he felt he had to do something.

In October, he held a fundraiser at Tap and Burger Sloan’s Lake. He said the Denver community was eager to help.

Broncos players donated signed items to raise money in an auction. He said Ben Higgins of the "Bachelor" also helped with the event. In all, the event raised close to $110,000.

Padro teamed up with a world-renown humanitarian Alison Thompson. They visited the island to help hand out donations and supplies, including small solar powered lanterns.

“I’m happy that we were able to help, and we are not done yet. We have a lot of work to do and I guess that’s what I would like people to understand,” Padro said.

Padro plans to return to the island next month with Water for Life to help install water sanitation systems.

Keigh Crespo owns Dos Abuelas Puerto Rican food truck. He was raised in the Bronx but is very proud of her Puerto Rican ties.

After the storm, she teamed up with Finns Manor and together they held a donation collection event. Crespo says she was blown away by the response.

They collected food, clothes and solar panels. In April, she traveled to the island to deliver the donations to some of the hardest hit areas in the mountains.

She was surprised by how much damage she saw seven months after the storm hit.

“Me being there just in April, and no lights in a main highway, should tell you it was almost as if it was still just two or three months ago,” Crespo said.

Crespo created a nonprofit to support people on the island called Dos Abuelas Care. Her goal is to help the agriculture industry that was decimated after Maria.

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