Monica Puig: ‘Help Puerto Rico,’ it’s ‘in crisis now’

Story highlights

Puig close to achieving new fund-raising target of $100,000

Initial goal of $25,000 for 'Help Rebuild Puerto Rico' was reached

She has reached out to pop star Luis Fonsi

Puig: 'We need help and we need it now'

CNN  — 

Monica Puig is closing in on her new goal of raising $100,000 to assist Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria battered the island, insisting that the US territory needs all the help it can get – and immediately.

And the tennis ace – who became Puerto Rico’s first ever Olympic gold medalist at last year’s Rio Games – says she has been in touch with pop superstar and fellow Puerto Rican Luis Fonsi to see what else can be done to help a week after Maria battered the island with torrential rains and 155-mile-per-hour winds.

“I have gotten in contact with some big names in Puerto Rico, for example Luis Fonsi, trying to decide what other things we can do to raise funds, trying to discuss different projects to continue to help Puerto Rico in any way we can,” Puig, who turned 24 on Wednesday, told CNN.

“This really means so much, not just to have these Puerto Ricans helping but they have big names and they are globally known, so we can continue to grab the attention of the people and say, ‘Help Puerto Rico, they’re in crisis now.’”

Fonsi’s hit single ‘Despacito,’ which features Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee, has been viewed more than 3.8 billion times on YouTube. The video was filmed in San Juan.

“Watching the images of the video and comparing it to the images I’ve seen so far – it’s devastated,” Daddy Yankee told CNN in a separate interview, adding that he donated $100,000 to Feeding America and another $100,000 to the Red Cross.

“I know a lot of people are struggling. There’s no communication, no power on the island, the hospitals are not working.

“We need the government to be more proactive.”

Monica Puig is pictured in action at the Wuhan Open.

‘We need help and we need it now’

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Puig chose her words carefully when asked if the US’s response has been fast enough but the world No. 77 said: “The only thing I can say is that we need help and we need it now. I don’t want to see suffering in Puerto Rico.

“We need all the help we can get from wherever we can get it. I just don’t want to see lives lost due to this crisis. It means a lot, anyone who is willing to help.

“We just need their help as quickly as possible.”

The death toll in Puerto Rico from Maria stands at 16 and as of Wednesday, 97% of the population remained in the dark, according to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló. Half of the commonwealth’s 3.4 million people didn’t have running water.

Rosselló said the energy grid “has been destroyed” and that that “does not get rebuilt in days.”

US President Donald Trump intends to visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, by which time Puig could well reach her fund raising target of $100,000 after her initial goal of $25,000 was quickly achieved.

Early Thursday, the “Help Rebuild Puerto Rico” fund stood at just over $82,000.

READ: Puerto Rico had half as many people the last time it saw a hurricane this bad

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“I’ve been talking countlessly with my agent and my parents to see what exactly it is that we want to do (with the money),” said Puig.

“I think the thing we’re going to focus most on is getting medicine, solar-powered lamps, portable stoves, because Puerto Rico is going to be out of power for a very long time.

“These are essentials people need in order to have food, light, power, somehow. It’s very important and these are some of the essentials I plan to give to the people of Puerto Rico as soon as possible.”

Interview by CNN’s Christina Macfarlane. Click here if you would like to donate to Monica Puig’s cause, Help Rebuild Puerto Rico