Statement from the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), Carlos Mercader:
Yesterday Telemundo Orlando broadcasted a statement from Héctor Rodríguez, a former Community Officer at PRFAA's Regional Office in Kissimmee, Florida, under the administration of Gov. García Padilla, where he states that the Regional Office has "thousands and thousands of food items that were donated by the people of Puerto Rico and were never sent to those who needed it."
The declarations made by Rodríguez are false. The statement is even more unfortunate given Rodríguez was one of the volunteers at PRFAA who helped in the delivery of donations to Puerto Rico along with personnel from the Office of the Sherriff in Kissimmee. Rodríguez collaborated as a volunteer in the effort PRFAA and the community led to deliver donations and knows that over 10,000 pounds worth of supplies were sent to Puerto Rico.
From the passage of Hurricane María until last week, the Regional Office in Florida functioned as a collection center. Citizens and various organizations sent donations, and these were delivered to Puerto Rico with the help of nongovernmental organizations such as CASA, Organización Se Levanta Puerto Rico, and Iglesia Pentecostal (ASPEN).
Additionally, since November 2017, we have been donating goods to Puerto Rican families in Florida directly from our office in Kissimmee or through the Help Center for the Displaced from Puerto Rico, Knights of Columbus (Kissimmee), among others.
Our office doesn't have the budget to fulfill the delivery of supplies to Puerto Rico. From the beginning, we had decided that we would work with organizations that could help us cover the delivery costs.
The donations that are still in PRFAA's Orlando Office are approximately 10% of the total received and were not sent to Puerto Rico because it was decided that they would be donated to the Puerto Rican families displaced in Florida.
As I expressed before, last week Officials of the Regional Office identified mice in the office. As a preventative measure, we decided to retain all donations that were in the office to do an inventory and ensure they are not contaminated.
The mice problem in the office is not new. On August 10, 2017, before the passage of the hurricanes, the office was closed to do pest control. It's important to note this problem was not because of the accumulation of supplies but because of a structural problem in the building that results in the entry of mice.
Given the recurrence of this issue, we decided to move to the office to another building. In the coming days, we will conclude an agreement to move the offices to a new building that can better serve the citizenry and abides by the fiscal standards of the Government.