Iowan makes it her mission to the help Puerto Rico rebuild
One year and still rebuilding. The island of Puerto Rico is fighting to recover after back-to-back hurricanes left many parts of the island in ruins.
"The recovery effort is still going on and will be going on for a while,” LeClaire, Iowa native and star of American Pickers, Danielle Colby, said.
Hurricane Maria, which came just two weeks after Hurricane Irma, caused damage to the island, knocked out power and water across Puerto Rico and caused widespread flooding. It has turned life upside down for people who call the island home.
Since the hurricanes hit, Colby has traveled to the island once a month helping with the recovery efforts. With the help of the locals and her boyfriend, Jeremy Scheuch, Colby has made it her mission to help the island rebound.
"This is a place we love so much and we had to help,” Colby.
Every month the couple helps a local orphanage recover, provide services to a local animal rescue and travel around the island helping local’s clean-up.
“Slowly, we are coming back,” Puerto Rican Carlos Tirado said.
Colby and Scheuch enlisted the help of Tirado immediately after the hurricane. They bought Tirado a truck, allowing him to travel around the island to deal with recovery efforts.
"They were my lifeline,” Tirado said. “I say it is impossible that I could have done it without them."
With the truck, Tirado documented damage on the island, and made a list of needed supplies. Colby and Scheuch would take the list and send back the needed supplies, and in some cases money.
"We're helping where we can but what we are doing is so small in comparison to what is needed and what they people who live here every day are doing,” Colby said.
"They will tell me that it was all me,” Tirado said. “No. It was not all me. I did the footwork. Without them, I would have been dead in the water."
The work being done by the Iowa native goes beyond cleanup and is spreading from the island to the states.
"They have exposed us to all of the world and a lot of people in the United States see what they have done," local Puerto Rican Hector Santiago said. He has lived on the island for years and has seen the problems caused by the hurricanes first hand. He says Danielle and Jeremy’s work is paying off.
"They put a face,” Tirado said. “They get noticed."
"I was raised in an environment where if you see a need, you fill it and there is a lot of needs here and we enjoy being here and the work we do here,” Colby said.