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Tue, Oct 17, 2017 09:18
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Quebec lumber and supplies headed for Puerto Rico and southern U.S.

QUEBEC (From news reports) -- A cargo ship departed Baie-Comeau, Que., on Sunday to deliver supplies to Puerto Rico, ravaged by the passing of Hurricane Maria.

Most of the U.S. territory's 3.4 million residents remain without power and are struggling to find clean water and fuel.

Resolute Forest Products said an employee at its Montreal headquarters, who is originally from Puerto Rico, brought the idea forward.

''When we saw the extent of the damage, we asked ourselves how we could help,'' said the company's director of public affairs, Karl Blackburn.

Blackburn said Resolute worked closely with aid organizations on the ground to determine the most pressing needs.

''We were asked to send drinking water and local companies pitched in to add non-perishables,'' said Blackburn.

Blackburn estimates that the total value of the shipment has doubled to around $10,000 with the help of Baie-Comeau's Maxi grocery store.

''We made sure to send only items that will be needed,'' said the store's manager Christian Genest.

The cargo ship is expected to reach the country's capital by mid-October.

It was already scheduled to dock in San Juan to deliver paper supplies to its regular clients, Blackburn said.

Resolute Forest Products is also working out the final details to send construction materials to Houston, Tex., badly hit by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August, as well as southern Florida, pummeled by Hurricane Irma in September.

''We will be sending wood from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean to rebuild homes,'' said Karl Blackburn.

The company has partnered with the international aid organization Habitat for Humanity.

Blackburn said the call for action also came from an employee who had worked in Houston.

After hearing first-hand accounts of the devastation left by Irma from former colleagues he asked the company to send a truck load of wood to help reconstruction efforts.

''Richard Garneau [the president and CEO] answered let's send a whole wagon load,'' said Blackburn, estimating the value of each shipment at $50,000.


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