UAW Local 686 Member Volunteers for Hurricane Relief Effort

Featured photo: Jeff Grimes, Lumi Irizarry and Dave Barnard, UAW 686 President

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico it was devastating to many UAW members.  Lumi Irizarry, a cell operator at UAW Local 686/GM Lockport was at home waiting patiently to hear from his loved ones after the hurricane hit. 

Lumi’s grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins fate were in the hands of the 10th strongest Atlantic hurricane in history.   When Lumi, who is fluent in Spanish, finally heard from his family. His grandmother told him how the water was coming through the doors of their house and how there was a 4 hour wait to get a gallon of gas.  People were lined up everywhere for bottled water and the entire island was without power.   Lumi remembers telling his uncle, “If my work ever gives me the opportunity to come and help, I will be there.”  Little did he know in a couple shorts weeks he would get that exact opportunity.

Lumi is only 24 years old and already has the skills and experience with hurricane relief efforts.  When Lumi graduated high school he joined the National Guard.  He was deployed to NYC in 2012 to help with the Hurricane Sandy relief. He helped evacuate people from buildings and provided them food and clothing.  After leaving the National Guard, Lumi became employed at UAW Local 686/GM Lockport where he went through fork lift and safety training and is currently a cell operator in condensers.  

Lumi and Levi Skelton

On Friday, September 29, Lumi’s Cousin Kyle, who is also a UAW Local 686 member shared a UAW International Facebook post with Lumi.  The post was asking for any skilled UAW members who would like to volunteer to help in Puerto Rico.  Lumi couldn’t believe what he was reading, he quickly responded and sent in his credentials.

Lumi found out the very next day that he was one of 21 UAW members chosen to go to Puerto Rico.  Terry Dittes, UAW Region 9 Director contacted Lumi thanking him for volunteering.  Terry offered him these words; “On Behalf of Region 9, we are so proud of you for volunteering, you are there with the backing of the UAW family and you know the reception you get from UAW Local 686, that great local you belong to.  I want to wish you well and again thank you for volunteering, Good Luck and God Speed.”   

Lumi and Jeramy Huber

Mike Branch, UAW local 686 Chairman and Dave Barnard, UAW Local 686 President were proud hear to the announcement that a brother from their local was chosen to go to Puerto Rico.  Branch further expressed, “We are proud of brother Lumi for stepping up during these dire circumstances.  It is a privilege to support his decision to volunteer.  I would like to thank Region 9 Director, Terry Dittes for his personal effort to make this happen.”

In just a few days Lumi Irizarry’s life changed.  From stacking condensers in Lockport, NY to jumping on a flight to grief stricken Puerto Rico, He is a proud father, son, nephew, cousin and UAW member.   The love for his family, country and his courage to step up and help will always be in our hearts.

  “I am very excited that we can come together as a UAW family.  It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that my family in Puerto Rico are not alone.  I am very thankful for this opportunity to help,” Lumi Irizarry.