Governor John Bel Edwards directed the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) to launch a statewide donation drive to help Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico. Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa announced the parish will participate in the drive.

Hurricane force winds and severe flooding devastated the island. Most forms of communication have been knocked out, and a major dam is at risk of failure. Thousands are without power or access to food, water, and medication. Edwards said we must work together to help those in need.

“Puerto Rican officials say the island is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis if help does not arrive soon," Edwards said, "I am asking everyone in Louisiana who can to once again support those facing tremendous adversity. We know how difficult the long road to recovery can be."

Edwards said they are looking for basic items to help the people of Puerto Rico begin that process. A drop off location at the Emergency Operations Center Warehouse in Gonzales will collect donations through October 11. New, unopened items can be dropped off from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. every day except Sundays.

“Ascension Parish people have always been generous to those in need,” Matassa said. “We are asking everyone to look into their hearts and do what they can for the people of Puerto Rico.”

Items to be collected are diapers, non-perishable formula, baby wipes, bottles, and feminine care products. GOHSEP is asking that only those items be donated, as the drive may continue in the future with additional items as needed. Limiting the initial donations will make shipping easier and speed up the delivery to Puerto Rico.

Matassa said local volunteers will assist in the collection process. The donations will be picked up by the Louisiana National Guard and delivered to Puerto Rico for distribution. Adjutant General of the Louisiana National Guard (LANG), Maj. Glenn Curtis, said this mission lies at the core of the principles LANG defends and upholds.

"It is an honor to be part of this humanitarian mission and come to the assistance of the people of Puerto Rico," said Curtis.

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