Cicero Chaplain Ismail Vargas knew he wanted to do more than raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Maria. So he asked the town if there was a way he could travel to the Caribbean island to aid in the disaster response. After approval, he packed his bags and headed south.
“This opportunity meant so much to me since it was something the Lord placed heavily in my heart, and it was a great blessing to have the Town of Cicero sponsor my deployment where I was able to put all the training I have had into practice,” Vargas said upon his return.
Vargas was part of a deployment of skilled municipal workers that aided, and continue to assist, in the recovery and rebuilding of the American territory devastated by the hurricane in the fall. The strongest storm to hit the United States since Katrina in 2005 left the entire island without power and more than $50 billion in damages.
“The devastation I saw was a lot to bear,” Vargas said. “Every day we tried to help in every way possible. There is still no electricity or running clean water in many parts of the island. So we went out to serve many communities by bringing them food, medication, water filters, solar lights, messages of hope, and much needed prayer. In many other areas, we were clearing roads that were filled with debris, placing roofs on many houses that had no ceilings, and digging out entire homes that are being affected by the mudslides currently happening due to all the water build up on the island.”
Vargas spent 10 days in Puerto Rico and returned ready to continue to help. He joined other officials in the town in holding a two-day fundraiser to aid in the recovery efforts on the island and in Mexico City, which was affected by two strong earthquakes.
I ask that we all continuously keep the island of Puerto Rico in our prayers as there is still much work to be done to help bring the island up and running as it was before,” Vargas said.