Lexington professor says some family unaccounted for in Puerto Rico

LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) - Professor Aly Colón teaches media ethics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington. Virginia is a long way from his birthplace in Santurce, Puerto Rico.

It's where he still has a lot of family.

"My mother was one of 12 so there was at least 30 to 40 cousins," he said, sitting in his office in Reid Hall.

Thursday he said he's been able to talk to most of those cousins who are managing in rough conditions.

"They don't have power regularly, and no power and rationed water, and they're ok for now,” he said.

But he's still waiting to hear from several family members with whom he's had no contact.

"Well it's obviously very difficult, there's a desire naturally to want to go down and help."

He said some of his family is involved with the recovery efforts in Washington D.C. and in Puerto Rico. He said they’ve told him the best plan for moving forward is involving the help of people already on the island, not wanting to risk the safety of people who want to travel down to help.

As someone who has been a reporter and studied crisis reporting, he also notes the difference in attention to Puerto Rico following the storm.

"I don't think this coverage has been anywhere the same that it has been for Irma and Harvey."

He said that could be due to the fact that communication was a challenge after the storm. The fact that it's an island, far from the mainland, could also be a contributing factor.

But he also believes it's partly because some people don't know Puerto Ricans are American Citizens.

"There are 3.5 million Puerto Ricans, American citizens there, that feel that they should get and should have gotten the same attention that came to Harvey and Irma."

Colón said he does not want to discredit the work that has been done in covering the disaster in Puerto Rico, but wishes more could have been done prior to now.

Expertise aside, he said it's disappointing to know the Puerto Rico he knew is gone.

"In comparison to what it used to be like, it's quite severe."