Massive relief effort underway in Tampa to ship supplies to Puerto Rico

Donations being collected in Tampa warehouse

TAMPA, Fla. - An army of volunteers are packing supplies which will be delivered through the strategy of a top ranking military mind to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

"We got about 650-thousand pounds of water," said Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel E.J. Otero, who now works for the "Course of Action" Foundation. "It is a military deployment if you will."

Otero is running the massive relief operation already shipping and flying 450-thousand pounds of relief to Puerto Rico from Tampa. 

"The level of catastrophe is what revs me up to do something about it and I have been in several wars and I have never seen in war, a country collapse in five hours. Never," he said. 

The retired Colonel helped establish the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar after 9/11. Many of the volunteers like Otero grew up in Puerto Rico.

"You're just waiting and you're just wondering if they're ok. You're just hoping that they're ok," said volunteer Liza Fleming.

Fleming's parents are ok...a short phone call finally came after a week in limbo. She says being here, busy, helps. 

"What you see here...it's who we are as a culture," said Fleming.

Generators, medical supplies, non-perishable food, baby supplies and more is on the way to Puerto Rican National Guard and church leaders.

"The American way. The American way," said Otero.

And the Tampa way. 

"Miracles have been worked and we just encourage folks to, if you have family in Puerto Rico, don't give up hope. Things are coming. Things are being flown in," said Otero. 

Private citizens have offered up cargo planes which will fly out of Tampa on Thursday. 

Another private donor drove a tractor trailer to the Port of Jacksonville to ship supplies to one of three Puerto Rican ports.

Donations can be made via the following:

GoFundMe accountwww.gofundme.com/ecwamm-donations-for-puerto-rico

Drop off Location: Homeland Intelligence Technologies, 4916 S Lois Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611 | Monday - Saturday from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. (Closed on Sunday)

Bank Account: Course of Action PR | Financial Institution: Fifth Third Bank | Routing Number: 063103915 | Bank Account: 7422307590

Amazon Wish List: http://a.co/bFvVL7j

Here's an updated list of donation items: 

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Canned food/non-perishable food
  • Baby supplies (bottles, diapers, baby wipes, formula, cereal, shampoo, baby lotion, baby powder, etc.)
  • Chainsaws
  • Drills
  • Generators 
  • Adult diapers and supplies for the elderly
  • Regular wipes
  • Water purifiers
  • Manual can openers 
  • Clean/new gas cans
  • Dog/cat food
  • Personal hygiene/bath care items
  • Personal medical supplies (bandaids, peroxide, bandages, etc.)
  • Paper towels
  • New Towels 
  • Air mattresses 
  • New Pillows
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Batteries (AA, C, D, 9V)
  • We do NOT need clothes or water as we have enough of each  

 Volunteers must be 18 years or older and show up ONLY at any of these specific times (Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to each shift).

  •  Shift 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  •  Shift 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  •  Shift 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
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