Chicagoan visits Puerto Rico to help friends, family, strangers

CHICAGO –- Much of Puerto Rico is still without power and clean water, and it could be months before that's all restored. One Chicagoan from Humboldt Park is currently on the island helping in any way she can.

Helping others is just in Beti Gureveras Ortiz blood. She works at the Boys and Girls Club but for the past three weeks she’s been in Puerto Rico helping her family, friends and strangers survive Hurricane Maria’s aftermath.

 

WGN spoke to Ortiz over FaceTime as she delivered ice to Carmen Castello who lives just outside of San Juan.

“Carmen is in need. FEMA hasn’t been by here to help the Red Cross hasn’t been by here,” Ortiz said.

Castello isn’t the only one federal help hasn’t gotten to.  Destroyed infrastructure and rain has made it difficult for many on the American island to get the help they need. Ortiz is doing what she can to help by delivering food and water filtration systems to anyone she comes across in need.

“It’s heartbreaking it looks like an atomic bomb went exploded in this place without the chemical reaction,” she said.

Ortiz is heavily financially invested in buying supplies even assembling water filtration kits, but she’s also invested emotionally. She was born in Chicago but grew up in Puerto Rico and her parents are still there and have no water, or electricity.

“It’s terrible still a lot of places no one has been to I’m not saying no one is on the ground we just need more people on the ground,” Ortiz said.

She’s mobilized her friends and co-workers in Chicago to help. Community crisis responder Dawn Valente created a GoFundMe page to help fund Ortiz's efforts in Puerto Rico. The non-profit Kids off the Block is also accepting donations for Puerto Rico at their headquarters -- 11623 S. Michigan Ave. The need, however, is far from over.

Meanwhile, the president seems proud of his administration’s response to Puerto Rico. Even after his paper towel throwing visit.

Ortiz doesn’t buy it and doesn’t hesitate when giving the Trump administrations a grade on its response to Maria.

“I give it an F minus. We are American citizens, we've been forgotten here," she said. "I’m appalled. I live in the U.S. and say I’m a U.S. citizen. I came here to an island of American citizens and see the need.