RED SPRINGS — Red Springs commissioners promised to help a young woman from Puerto Rico get badly needed supplies to her family who stayed in her hometown of Cidra as Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean island.
Leslie Ciancaglini, 25, a Red Springs resident for five years, told the commissioners Tuesday she has had limited conversations with her family in Puerto Rico because they must travel to a town about 45 minutes away from Cidra in order to find a means of communication.
“They have no water or ice,” she said. “They are in need of basic needs. Maybe there is some activity where you can get things such as water, baby formula and diapers to my family and others in my country.”
Ciancaglini, whose father lives in New Jersey, told The Robesonian that the eye of the hurricane passed right over Cidra. Members of her family who lived in homes constructed of wood found shelter with other family members whose homes were built using concrete.
Ciancaglini said her mother came to visit her to celebrate her birthday only four days before the hurricane struck. Her mother eventually will return to Puerto Rico.
Wiping away tears, she told the commissioners about her desire to help her family and others.
“I wish I can do more,” she said. “This is my country and my people. I want to see my country grow up again.”
Town officials said they would do all they can to help, but made no promises.
“We have already contacted the Red Cross to see what we can do,” Mayor John McNeill said. “The problem is how we can get supplies sent that are designated to where you want them to go.”
McNeill said Red Springs residents usually are willing to help someone is in need.
“If anyone needs immediate help it’s the people in Puerto Rico,” he said. “This is a life-and-death situation. Help is needed today, not tomorrow.”
In other business, the commissioners received a brief update on a project that began seven years ago in an attempt to keep utility rates low for town residents.
Derrick Edge, the town’s Electric Distributions Systems director, told the commissioners that his department is about halfway finished installing “Smart Meters” that will allow utility customers to monitor their water and electric use online. To date, 800 electric meters and 300 water meters have been installed.
Oct. 12 is the date that a majority, if not all of the electric meters, are to be in place, Edge said. The installation of water meters is a little behind schedule.
McNeill described the Smart Meter program as an example of the town “going digital.”
“After three to six months, customers are going to love this system,” he said.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Honored Red Springs High School Principal Larry Brooks for being named this year’s county public schools’ Principal of the Year. Mayor Pro Tem Caroline Sumpter described Brooks as a man who has a “real sense of humor” and works hard.
“He is a man of few words, but a man of action,” she said.
— Heard town resident Dale Singles ask that more recreation programs, including a senor exercise class, be made available.
Juan Alexander Vicent, chairman of the town’s Recreation Separtment, said there are recreation programs in existence that benefit the community’s senior population, but more programs are desired.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.