Power of Good: Community, Alabama Power unite to help Puerto Rico

October 19, 2017 | Community | Alabama Power Foundation

Original post by Donna Cope on Alabama NewsCenter

José Vazquez is on a mission to do anything he can to help the hurting people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The 10th-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, Maria dealt a wallop punch. Nearly a month afterward, about 90 percent of the island remains without power, and water service has been restored to less than 60 percent of the population. Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed and entire communities left completely isolated, without food and water, according to reports by the Puerto Rican government.

The tragedy has hit Vazquez – head coach for the Hornets baseball team at Alabama State University (ASU) in Montgomery – harder than a speeding curve ball. His ties to the island run deep: Vazquez was born in Puerto Rico.

“My mom and dad, sisters, aunts and uncles are still in Puerto Rico,” Vazquez said. “My brother said it was the worst experience he’d ever lived through. The winds were 125 to 135 miles per hour, and he felt the house was going to be blown away. It was punishment for 12 straight hours. There will be a lot of work to do and it will take a lot of time to get back to normal.”

Fortunately, his family’s homes were damaged but not destroyed.


“I have seven players on my team who are from Puerto Rico,” added Vazquez, who was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association in 2013.

When coaches at the University of Houston recently put out a call to assist Hurricane Harvey storm victims, Vazquez, the Hornets and other ASU coaches were there to help.

Now, Vazquez has spearheaded a project to send a cargo plane to Puerto Rico. The plane will be laden with donations from communities across Alabama.

“When Maria hit Puerto Rico, my players who are from there and the entire team wanted to help,” he said. “It was awesome to feel the unity in the team; the upper classmen and the younger players all wanted to get involved.”

ASU held a donation drive for Hurricane Maria storm victims at its Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex on Oct. 5.

“We collected water, Alabama Power came in with batteries and flashlights and other items,” Vazquez said. “It was awesome. It was very impressive.”

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