Woman helps deliver medical supplies to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico

Angelique Sina (ABC7 photo){ }

From the air, Angelique Sina could easily see the devastation from Hurricane Maria.

“It was truly heartbreaking,” she recalls. “I could see the small businesses totally destroyed, no ceilings left, gas stations that did not exist anymore.

Sina, co-founder of the group ‘Friends of Puerto Rico’, returned last Thursday to her hometown of Aguadilla, on the Northwestern tip of the island, as part of a relief mission.

“We took a lot of insulin, we took syringes, we took hundreds and hundreds of antibiotics,” she says.

The mission, organized by Bethesda-based ‘Precision Medical’ CEO Ethan Leder, was the second of two plane trips carrying $310,000 worth of medical supplies.

“…We were going to go over to Puerto Rico to bring them to where they’d be really used, not in some port or airport without any designation,” Leder says.

The cargo included 4,000 pounds of medical supplies, donated by John Hopkins, Medstar Washington, and other organizations.

Desperately needed items include drugs, insulin, surgical masks, and even water.

“The idea behind the mission was to save lives,” Sina says. “We have thousands of patients that receive dialysis, that don't have access to medications, the hospitals or the doctors on the island.”

For aid workers and medical personnel, the challenges are daunting: no communications, hospitals shut down because of a lack of running water or an excess of bacteria, and no way to transport medicines.

Thousands of families are without electricity or water.

Sina says lines for water start at five in the morning, and that parched residents end up waiting in the heat for hours.

When Precision Medical’s plane touched down at the Aguadilla airport, Sina says she saw faces she recognized, including medical personnel, waiting for a case of water.

“You can see from their faces that they were just desperate, grateful,” she said quietly. “But it’s a sense of desperation. Middle class families, waiting for a case of water.”

Sina says this DMV to Puerto Rico airlift was Leder’s brainchild.

“He was on the news seeing what was happening on the island, and he wanted to help,” she says. “He flew two planes out of his own money. He got all these medical supplies donated, from Johns Hopkins, to Precision Medical Group.”

While Sina and her group are scrambling to find money and resources, they are well aware of the epic battle ahead.

Extreme shortages of food, water, and medicine, all critically needed.

“It was terrible what I saw,” says Sina, who plans to return to the island this Friday.

Some estimates say rebuilding will cost $95 billion, in a country that has a deficit of $72 billion.

A process she says, could take years.

“This Christmas will definitely be very different from all the Christmases we've ever had,” Sina says.