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Former Iowan assists in Puerto Rico recovery efforts

Posted at 8:05 AM, Sep 30, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In 2008, Andrea Rivera-Rojas moved to Council Bluffs from Puerto Rico to play volleyball at Iowa Western Community College.

3 News Now Anchor Zach Williamson’s family became the host family for her and another volleyball player from the island.

Andrea ended up spending more than seven years in Iowa with her husband Pedro Hernandez—their two sons were even born in Iowa.

However, they eventually moved back to Puerto Rico and were there when Hurricane Fiona struck.

She says the island never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria, and that around 40 percent of the island is still without power and or water since Fiona hit.

Andrea was able to help though.

She is the Director of Food Services at a not-for-profit school, Christian Military Academy. She says 75 percent of the school’s students are on free or reduced lunch, and many go to school for free despite it being a private school.

She saw firsthand how many families were struggling when the pandemic began and wanted to help. Through her role with the school, she was able to start a program to prepare meals and serve them to children in need all around the island.

When Fiona made impact, they were able to expand their operations and drove through flooded roads to deliver the meals while the tropical storm was still taking place.

“That first day we were able to impact 300 kids in Vega Baha and we were also able to impact around 400 adults with donations that we got,” she said. “Kids were getting out of their house in the middle of the flood to get their food because they didn’t have anything.”

Since the pandemic began, the program has prepared and served more than 2.5 million meals for kids in need.

Andrea said that her time in Iowa prepared her to run this program and that she will always call Iowa home, too.