BOSTON — A crowd-funding campaign started by Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran has already raised nearly $1.3 million to help with hurricane relief in his native Puerto Rico.
Beltran and his family donated $1 million to initiate the fund earlier this week. He said Friday that with the assistance of Astros owner Jim Crane, he also helped secure two planes in Houston that were expected to land on the island later in the day, carrying 300,000 pounds of supplies.
"I talked to my brother like four days ago. Today I was able to talk to him again. He was trying to get gas. He's been in the line for almost 27 hours," Beltran said. "He just called me to talk to me a little bit and inform me about the situation over there. It's not good, man. It's been nine days and people are not really getting anything."
The Astros clinched the AL West earlier this month and sit one game behind Cleveland for the league's best record. Beltran was slated to play Friday in the second game of their final regular-season series against Boston.
Beltran said he's trying to keep his mind on baseball as much as he can to help distract him from what his loved ones are going through.
"Of course, my body's here. My mind and my soul is with my people in Puerto Rico," he said. "It's going to be like that until I see that things are starting to get better."
Beltran's mother, father and sisters are also still in Puerto Rico.
"They're going through the same thing," he said. "It's hard to see your family and people basically going through necessities like that the way they are and suffering the way they are because it's an adjustment for all the Puerto Ricans."
Much of Beltran's downtime has been spent on helping to mobilize support. He wants to charter more supply planes, but said they come at a price of $135,000 each.
Beltran said the National Association of Christian Churches in Houston is helping with fundraising efforts to secure more planes.
He said he was inspired by the way the government helped with hurricane victims in Texas and Florida recently, and he's pleading that Puerto Rico gets the same attention.
"The people that are not getting the support. The hospitals are running out of power, out of diesel," he said. "So the situation is critical. ... We need help. This isn't going to be short-term help. It's going to be short-term, long-term. So right now, I do believe that it is important that the message gets out there and hopefully they take action."
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