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Utahns working to ‘Light Up Puerto Rico’ with solar power, shelters

SALT LAKE CITY -- Governor Gary Herbert called on Utahns to give generously to relief efforts for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

"We have fellow Americans in Puerto Rico who are hurting, who need help," the governor said at a Capitol Hill news conference on Monday.

Gov. Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox stood side-by-side with state lawmakers and Puerto Ricans in Utah to implore people to give to an effort to provide solar generators and temporary shelters to the island.

"We’re not going to sit idly by when we have opportunities to help. Puerto Rico is looking for assistance and Utahns are stepping forward to see what we can do as a state and as a people to help our fellow Americans," the governor said.

More than 40 days since Hurricane Maria, more than 70 percent of the island still has no power. The governor was inspired to help, in part, by one of his sons, Brad Herbert, who served a Mormon mission to the island.

"We love the people of Puerto Rico. We love that island, we love the culture. For me personally, it’s an island that changed me," Brad Herbert told reporters.

Lt. Gov. Cox said the Zions Bank, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Goal Zero and Vivint Solar have already kicked in. Brad Herbert said $300,000 had been raised so far through an effort called "Light Up Puerto Rico."

"They are afraid of the dark because it’s so dark, everywhere," said Carilu Alvarado, who is helping to coordinate the effort. She and her husband, Jorge, are from Puerto Rico and recently returned to the island to help with relief efforts.

"There is so much to do. We feel like we went there and we did a lot, but it’s too much to handle," she told FOX 13.

Lt. Gov. Cox announced he would personally go with a group of about 40 volunteers in mid-November to deliver relief supplies, as well as offering to help where he can.

"We respond when people need help. When Texas got hit, we had truckloads of people going down every day. We had huge fundraisers, and we need to do the same for Puerto Rico. It’s worse down there," he said.

Anyone wishing to donate to "Light Up Puerto Rico" can do so here.