BOSTON (CBS) — 24 state and local police officers from Massachusetts headed to Puerto Rico on Saturday to help with Hurricane Maria relief efforts.
These officers are the first of 70 that will be deployed to the island over the next six weeks.READ MORE: 2 Dracut Police Cruisers Destroyed In Suspicious Fire At Station
For many, it is personal.
“This mission, in particular, is close to all of our hearts,” said Officer Izzy Marrero. He has family in Puerto Rico.
“What my family says is ‘Estamos Bien – we’re okay.’ What that means is they’re alive. My grandma’s house is gone,” said Marrero.
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico after pounding the island as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph on September 20. At least 16 people were killed, and countless families were left without food, water, shelter or power.
“It’s personal. To us, it’s personal. If we can help, we’re going to help them,” added Lt. Detective Luis Cruz.
Police Commissioner William Evans said, “It’s not like they’re going on vacation down there. Who knows if they’re going to be able to shower or whatnot, but a lot of our officers have family in Puerto Rico.”READ MORE: It Happens Here: Learning To Play Polo, ‘The Game of Kings’, In Georgetown
According to Evans, the Boston officers will be working with Puerto Rico police to give residents a sense of security post-hurricane.
“I think they’re going to be assisting them. Whether it’s with patrol or helping them in any way they need. I don’t know what the traffic conditions are, I don’t know about the building conditions. but They’re all there to lend a hand,” he said.
The officers will travel to the island in three waves for two weeks each.
Massachusetts State Police will also be shipping 13 cruisers to the island.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Cruz said, “This is what being a police officer is all about, and this is why we’re going down there. We became police officers to help people.”