TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Leonida “Lee” Chaudoin, a registered nurse who lives in Tucson, was born in Puerto Rico and lived there for 17 years.
"The beach, and all the green, and all the fruit and plantation and flowers," is how Chaudoin remembers her home. They’re happy memories full of color like parts of Puerto Rico once were.
"Now there’s just a lot of destruction so it’s sad to see it that way,” she said.
It’s been two weeks of terror, with a 6.4 earthquake and lingering aftershocks. The devastation hits close to home as multiple members of Chaudoin’s family still live there.
“That’s the island where I was brought up and my grandparents lived there, all my family lived there and there’s still a lot of them there,” she said.
Hundreds of homes are now crumbled to dust, while others are barely standing. Chaudoin said her sister was one of the lucky ones, who still has a home to go back to. But now, many are too afraid to go near them.
"She’s just petrified. She’s really scared. She goes ‘I don’t even really want to go inside the house because everything shakes.’ So they come outside, and some people don’t want to go back in.”
It’s a tragic blow to an island that hasn’t been able to get back on it’s feet.
"There’s a lot of destruction even after Mary (hurricane Maria) they haven’t recuperated from that completely.”
It’s why Chaudoin is ready to hit the ground running. The nurse and Red Cross volunteer will be stationed in Río Piedras for two weeks, about two hours from where she grew up in San Sebastian.
There, she’ll tend to the community she was once a part of.
“I know their habits I know their feelings how they react.”
Ready to help in a place she once called home, and where a piece of her heart will always be.
“I’m anxious to get there and be able to help in some way," said Chaudoin.
This will be her 15th deployment to help others across the country who have been affected by disaster.
Chaudoin will depart from Tucson midday Wednesday, Jan. 22.
The Red Cross has more than 250 trained disaster workers on the island, supporting government shelters and helping to care for more vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children.
- Red Cross workers are going neighborhood by neighborhood to give out emergency supplies, including hygiene kits and comfort items, and sharing preparedness information.
- As part of this door to door outreach, these Red Cross teams are also supporting the health and wellbeing of residents by checking blood pressure, providing emotional support and sharing coping and safety information. All of these services are part of the help people need while they begin to plan their next steps.
- The Red Cross has already:
- Distributed more than 31,000 relief supplies
- Provided more than 6,500 integrated disaster care services to provide health and mental health services, as well as comfort and spiritual care