Family members of an El Faro’s crew member who lost his life when the American cargo ship tragically sank in 2015 are being recognized for their effort to assist Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria.
In November 2017, Deb and Robin Roberts of Wilton, ME began a drive for relief goods in honor of their son Holland. Holland was one of 33 crew members who perished when the cargo ship the El Faro sank in Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015.
For three days in December, the Roberts visited Puerto Rico to distribute more than 30,390 pounds of food, water, personal hygiene supplies and other key goods to those in need.
While there, the Roberts visited Hogar Casa Feliz in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, an elderly home on the island as well as the community of Loiza, Puerto Rico to distribute goods, while the remainder of the items were provided to communities in need in conjunction with Para la Naturaleza.
Holland is said to have spent a significant amount of time in Puerto Rico as the El Faro was dedicated to the Puerto Rico trade lane. As such, the Roberts felt called to support the people and communities who played such an integral role in their son’s life.
“It was truly a rewarding experience to be able to help the people of Puerto Rico in memory of our son, Michael” commented Deb and Robin Roberts. “We are so grateful to everyone at TOTE for helping us to make the drive a success. Without their efforts and support, we never would’ve been able to make it happen. Upon our arrival in Puerto Rico, we were amazed at the sharp contrast between the sheer beauty of the island in areas like San Juan and the utter destruction in areas like Loiza caused by Hurricane Maria. Yet during our supplies delivery, the people of Loiza taught us a lesson in how to deal with adversity. Despite being without power for over three months, they were all smiling and even broke out in song and dance while they awaited the arrival of the delivery truck. The people of Puerto Rico truly love their island just like Michael did!”
TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, owner of the El Faro, helped support the Roberts with their transportation and distribution efforts.
“Partnering with the Roberts to bring goods to the island has been a gift” commented Anthony Chiarello, President and CEO of TOTE. “There are still so many families and communities struggling to survive after Hurricane Maria – these goods will be invaluable to people throughout the island.”