Video: Man desperate to get elderly mother out of Puerto Rico

(KCRA) More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, a Vacaville, California man is still struggling to communicate with his elderly mother who lives on the island.

Eighty-year-old Ramona Lozada is cut off from civilization outside the rural mountain town of Corozal.

Sitting in his living room 3,600 miles away, 55-year-old Alberto Velazquez feels helpless trying to coordinate his mother’s survival and evacuation.

“She’s losing weight — 98 pounds, losing weight. She doesn’t have a lot of weight to lose,” Velazquez says. “No power, no water, no food. She doesn’t want us worrying about her, but I can hear it in her voice. I can hear that she’s suffering and there’s so little I can do.”

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Velazquez sat down with KCRA 3’s Tom Miller and talked about his efforts to evacuate his mother.

Q: What’s it like in the town of Corozal where your mom lives?

Velazquez: As you branch out, you get into the rural suburbs, and that’s where my mom lives. Houses are few and far between. After Hurricane Maria hit, the island was devastated, no electricity, no communications. Nothing was working.

Q: When did you first hear from your mom?

Velazquez: About five days later, after the hurricane hit. I was not sleeping, feeling guilty that I was drinking water, feeling guilty that we were eating knowing how devastated they were.

Q: How is she doing now?

Velazquez: She’s losing weight — 98 pounds, losing weight. She doesn’t have a lot of weight to lose.

No power, no water, no food.

She doesn’t want us worrying about her, but I can hear it in her voice. I can hear that she’s suffering and there’s so little I can do.

Q: What have you done to try and help her?

Velazquez: Red Cross, FEMA, the Puerto Rican Coast Guard, the police — virtually most of those phone numbers, they didn’t work.

The Red Cross required a form to be filled out and they said in a week they’ll get to her.

You can’t wait a week, you can’t wait a day — she needs help now.

Q: You’ve booked a flight for your mom that departs Tuesday. What are you hoping happens between now and then?

Velazquez: What I hope to happen is that one of the agencies that I’ve talked to can get to her, provide her food, provide her with what she needs to survive.

As of right now, I don’t know if she’s going to make that flight on Tuesday.

We live in America, how can this be happening?

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