One Chicagoan couldn’t sit idle so she traveled to Puerto Rico to provide relief

In this Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 photo, Arden Dragoni, second from left, poses with his wife Sindy, their three children and dog Max, surrounded by what remains of their home destroyed by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. The Dragoni family has been living in a shelter set up at a school since the storm destroyed their wooden home in late September. They lost everything: clothes, household goods, and an old car. Dragoni supported his family by working construction, but his employers are currently out of business, leaving him and his family without a source of income. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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With Puerto Rico still powerless and without clean water, one Chicagoan from Humboldt Park decided sitting by to watch just wasn’t enough as she packed her bags and headed to the island to provide relief in any way she can.

Beti Gureveras Ortiz was born to help others working at the local Boys and Girls Club in her neighborhood, but for the past three weeks she has put everything on hold to help her family as well as others struggling in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, according to WGN.

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Many citizens in Puerto Rico have not been able to receive federal aid in this time of regrouping and Ortiz has been doing her best to reach out to these citizens including Carmen Castello who lives just outside of San Juan. Because of the destroyed infrastructure, many can not get the help they need and Ortiz is reaching out by delivering food and water filtration systems to anyone she can manage to get to.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Ortiz told WGN. “It looks like an atomic bomb went [and] exploded in this place without the chemical reaction. It’s terrible [because there are] 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.”

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In addition to her efforts on the island, Ortiz is encouraging her friends and coworkers from back home to do what they can to help. The Boys and Girls Club where she works has set up a GoFundMe page as well as having held several donation drives already, but Ortiz said the cry for help is far from over in Puerto Rico.

“We are American citizens,” Ortiz told WGN in response to President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico. “We’ve been forgotten here [and] I’m appalled. I live in the U.S. and say I am a U.S. citizen. I came here to an island of American citizens and [I] see the need.”

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