BUFFALO, N.Y. - Casimiro Rodriguez Sr. has a sister and aunt living on the south eastern coast of Puerto Rico.
Rodriguez, president of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York, says he was recently able to connect with them to hear that everyone is doing okay.
He was also relieved to see President Trump on the island Tuesday, as he believes communities are not getting the supplies they need after Hurricane Maria.
He says what irritated him about the visit was President Trump's comment about Puerto Rico throwing the federal budget “a little out of whack.”
He also didn't like how the president downplayed the deaths of 16 people compared to a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina, which killed close to 2000.
Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas, who spoke Wednesday at the Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo about Hispanic Heritage month, just recently reached his mother on the island. He also was thankful to see the president in Puerto Rico, despite his remarks.
"I think that's important that he went out there. As far as those two comments go, that is our president. There's a way to understand him,” said Rosas. “I hope that what he's going to do is push forth the support that's needed out there.”
"Strain on a budget, let's not talk about budget. Let's not talk about debt. Let's talk about rescuing lives and saving lives," said Rodriguez. "This is not a numbers game. One death is too many, one death is too many. To compare this to Hurricane Katrina or other hurricanes that have occurred, there's no comparison."
The council is still accepting donations for people in need. More information is available on the group's website, http://hispanicheritagewny.org.