Osceola County pastor helps families communicate with loved ones in Puerto Rico

by: Lauren Seabrook Updated:

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A man with a heart for helping is going old school to get information from Puerto Rico.

 

An antenna coming out of his window, strung through the trees up over his house, is connecting Pastor Ian Thomas to the unreachable.

 

Early Thursday morning, his ham radio was silent.

 

Puerto Rico: Families desperate to contact loved ones after Hurricane Maria

 

"And by 9:30, things started jumping. And then we were talking to Puerto Rico,” he said.

 

Many people in Central Florida, like Alexandra Ale, have family living on the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

 

"I was feeling like I was suffocating because my hands are tied and kind of just waiting around to hear from someone," Ale said.

 

Thomas is taking requests from people across the U.S., then doing what he can to find out through radio waves if they're all right.

 

"They just need someone to knock on the door and say, 'Are you still alive? Are you OK, grandma?'

 

Because you have an 80-year-old lady who didn't think anything would happen and no one's checked on her,” Thomas said.

 

The process is tedious, but he's not going to stop because he knows for so many families, giving up on their loved ones is not an option.

 

Ale feels thankful because her family is one of few with enough phone service to get a message out.

 

She now knows at the very least they are alive.

 

"My sister's words, 'It looks like a bomb exploded,’” she said.

 

Watch: Jorge Estevez gives update on Hurricane Maria

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