PEF nurse makes second trip to Puerto Rico
By DEBORAH A. MILES
As Llamara Padro-Milano flew over the island of Puerto Rico in late July, this PEF nurse was troubled seeing the number of blue plastic roofs that still dotted the landscape. The heavy tarps were to be temporary coverings after Hurricane Maria damaged the roofs of thousands of homes, hospitals and other critical infrastructures.
Padro-Milano was a member of one of the first teams to travel to the island in October 2017, just a couple of weeks after Maria left its destructive imprint. Now, nine months later she returned as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative.
Representing PEF, Padro-Milano joined members from other labor organizations, non-profit, philanthropic and academic partners to help support New York’s tactical assessment team who developed a comprehensive rebuilding roadmap for communities in need.
“I am very proud of our governor and the work that the state, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and PEF has done. I witnessed a focused, collaborative effort that targets the neediest of communities,” Padro-Milano said. “New York has stepped up in a big way to fill the gap left by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
On her first day during this trip, she visited Playita, a town of approximately 400 low-income people.
“Since my first visit to Playita in 2017, I saw improvements such as the removal of debris. There are more permanent roofs on homes and there is a more coordinated effort. The local community leader works with people at the state Labor Department and with CUNY and SUNY students who have been volunteering their time and talents all summer.
Padro-Milano spent day two helping to rebuild a house in Orocovis, a town in the island’s central mountain range. It was there she noticed an AFT Operation Agua water filter on the kitchen counter, and observed that clean drinking water is still a scarce commodity.
“Through this initiative, the governor has leveraged the work and manpower to connect groups and to put the help were it is needed.” Padro-Milano said.
“The work is being focused on the areas that were hit the hardest. The progress is slow, but just as the foliage is making a recovery, so is the island. But what Puerto Rico needs the most is more support.”