Puerto Rico

SoCal Nonprofit Raises Funds for Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

A giant billboard in Hollywood went up Thursday to commemorate and raise funds for the victims of the deadly Hurricane Maria that happened a year ago when the storm made landfall in Puerto Rico.

The billboard sits atop of The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on North Orange Dr and its an initiative by of the 100Roofs Project, an organization that provides a room over the heads of Puerto Ricans who lost their homes after Hurricanes Maria and Irma hit the island.

In addition to the billboard, which was donated by a nonprofit organization called “Today, I’m brave,” Mofongo Restaurant in North Hollywood held a candle light vigil to remember the victims of the hurricane.

Actress Ludo Vika, who grew up in Puerto Rico, remembers the terrifying day Hurricane Maria slammed into Villa Carolina - a neighborhood outside of San Juan where her family lives.

“It was the scariest thing ever,” she said. “We couldn’t get out of the house for three or four days.”

Her brother-in-law, Carmelo Diaz, is paralyzed due to a neurodegenerative disease and needs a ventilator to breathe.

“So we were plugging him into the car battery because we couldn’t get gasoline to get the generator working.”

The Diaz home was destroyed in the storm, and a charity organization helped evacuate Carmelo and Vika’s sister Berenise to Louisiana. Vika’s three other sisters remain in Puerto Rico where some 60,000 homes still have no roofs.

Actress Rosie Perez unveiled the billboard in Hollywood as part of the 100Roofs Campaign. The goal is to raise $500,000 to put roofs on 100 damaged homes by the end of the year.

“I’m part of the diaspora of people here on the mainland and we hurt so badly for the people in Puerto Rico,” she said. “I can’t leave my brothers and sisters alone until every single one of them has a roof over their heads.”

Elizabeth Campos contributed to this report.

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