September 29, 2017

Karla Ortiz, who works in Catholic Extension's mission department, has spent the week since Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico in Chicago, waiting, worrying and wondering about her entire family.

"All of my family is there," she said. "I'm the only one who is here, so my mom, my dad, my uncle, my grandparents."

Ortiz had to wait until Wednesday to get an email from her parents.

"So when I saw in the subject line 'My dear daughter, I don't know when you'll receive this message.' The first thing that she says, 'Thank God I'm alive. It's been horrible.' She begins to describe everything she knew, everything she has seen- she says Puerto Rico has transformed," Ortiz said.

Her family sends pictures of the destruction. Her father also had to make a trip to the hospital.

"My dad needed to get insulin for my mom, so he had to drive a whole hour away to get insulin and drive back, and he had just enough gas," she said.

In the meantime Catholic Extension got an emergency phone call from a bishop at an inland diocese, desperate and asking for help.

"It was the first call he was able to make and the first person he talked to was one of our staff here at Catholic Extension, basically saying the island was in a state of chaos," said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension.

Catholic Extension will be sending the Puerto Rican diocese more than $300,000.

Ortiz is working on getting her family to Chicago for their safety and health.

"Never had I thought that I would be here, losing my sleep because I don't know if my mom is going to be able to have her medicine. Because insulin has to be cold and there is no electricity," she said.

Since the email, Ortiz has not heard anything else from her family; no more emails or phone calls. She's waiting.

Please pray for Karla, her family and everyone else who is struggling in the wake of these devastating hurricanes. If you can make a gift to support rebuilding efforts, it will be matched dollar for dollar by some of our generous longtime donors.

Story courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago.

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