BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The not knowing is the hardest part.

The people gathered at the Olivencia Community Center have close ties to Puerto Rico. They have parents, cousins, and grandchildren living on the island.

However, while they can watch the video of Hurricane Maria devastating the region, one thing they can't do is check in with family.

"I have not been able to speak to them as of yet," said Erica Leon, meeting attendee. "I even tried Snapchat with my cousins to see if I can get a hold of them, but I have not been able to."

The entire territory is without power and telephones and social media accounts have gone silent.

So community leaders, state officials, and city lawmakers gathered to try to answer the question: what can we do?

"We don't know what their needs are, how we can be of help, but we decided to be proactive and raise money because we know based on news reports that the island was impacted tremendously," said David River, (D) Buffalo Common Council.

"Also got people from other islands going to Puerto Rico that they're taking care of because their islands got destroyed," said Chito Olivencia, community leader. "Now we gotta take care of them and the other people."

Meeting organizers say the first step will be to set up bank accounts where people can donate to relief efforts.

They say they'll also work to get out the word about goods needed and how they actually volunteer in Puerto Rico.