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J.J. Barea says situation in Puerto Rico 'complete emergency'

DALLAS -- J.J. Barea is pleading for more assistance for his native Puerto Rico one day after borrowing Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's plane to deliver food, water and supplies to the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Barea, along with 12 close friends and family members, flew to Puerto Rico early Tuesday morning and returned later that night with an additional 17 passengers, including the veteran guard's mother and grandmother.

"I don't think people really know how bad it is," J.J. Barea said of the situation in Puerto Rico. "They know it's bad, but they really don't know how bad. We're in a complete emergency down there." Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images
"You always go to Puerto Rico -- after the season when I fly in -- you look out the window and it's beautiful," Barea said after Wednesday's practice. "The water's blue, it's green, there's people moving around -- you always feel the vibe. Yesterday, you look out the window, it's dead. It is completely dead.

"It's awful. People are struggling. It was good to be down there and help, but to see it in person, it was tough. We need a lot of help, and it's going to take a while. It's just starting. There's not gonna be no power. A lot of people are without water. It's going to be a long, long process. We've just got to keep helping out."

Barea and his wife, Viviana Ortiz, launched an online fundraiser the day the Category 4 hurricane hit Puerto Rico, knocking out power and causing flooding throughout the island. After purchasing supplies, Barea planned the trip to Puerto Rico on Monday evening, reaching out to Cuban to request use of the team plane.

"I texted him. Five minutes later, he goes, 'Check your email,'" said Barea, who spent about four hours in Puerto Rico, helping unpack supplies that included medicine and 32 generators. "I was in contact with the pilot and all the guys who run the Mavericks' plane. After a hundred or more emails, we finally got cleared. That was a lot of emails to Washington, back to Puerto Rico, back to Washington. Finally, we got cleared, and then we were able to go."

Barea's father and uncle, who run his foundation, remained in Puerto Rico to spearhead the relief efforts. With training camp started, Barea said he doesn't plan to return to Puerto Rico in the immediate future, but his wife and the friends who joined him Tuesday hope to make another trip soon.

"We've still got four 18-wheelers full of stuff, ready to go down there," said Barea, who expressed appreciation to Cuban. "The problem is taking it there. Mark Cuban was awesome, and all of the staff, with the plane situation. We'll see if we can go one more [time]. I think Mark is up for it, and we'll go from there."

Barea hopes the publicity from his trip, as well as the fundraising efforts of Carmelo Anthony and several Puerto Rican-born baseball players, will raise awareness of the problems facing Puerto Rico, most of which is expected to be without power for several months.

"I don't think people really know how bad it is," Barea said. "They know it's bad, but they really don't know how bad. We're in a complete emergency down there."

Author: Tim McMahon, ESPN
Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20838899/jj-barea-dallas-mavericks-says-situation-puerto-rico-complete-emergency

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