Neighbors Helping Neighbors: The Aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

By Bev Fitzpatrick, Jul 3, 2018

When Hurricane Maria roared through the Caribbean with 150 mph winds in September 2017, no one in Puerto Rico was left untouched. The storm took out the power grid of the entire island and left most people without phone service and internet access. Some lost roofs and homes. The actual death toll is still unknown. Roads blocked by flooding, downed trees, and power lines made driving difficult, especially without working traffic signals.

Aid for the elderly
But immediately, people started assisting in their own communities—neighbors helping neighbors. After hearing that a nearby 10-story assisted living facility for the elderly had no working elevator, we stopped by to help. Spending time with these folks made us aware of the needs of the elderly during this crisis, many of whom lack family support and resources. With funds raised through an MTW project, we were able to provide seniors with solar lights, portable radios and fans, and insect repellent. This has opened doors for us to share in worship services and to return with a group of youth from our church over Christmas.

Christmas Party

Meanwhile, the seminary where Joe teaches opened its doors just two weeks after the storm despite having no electricity or water. Thankfully, a generator was available for evening classes. Even students who lost homes were back in class and all have demonstrated amazing resilience and determination, some studying by the light of lanterns in the evenings. One student who lost his home remarked, “It was only things that I lost.”  

Churches helping neighbors
Our church south of San Juan, Torre Fuerte (“Strong Tower”), a former prosperity gospel church now embracing Reformed theology, reached out to needy communities after the storm, delivering water, food, and other necessities. Shortly after the hurricane hit, MTW’s Global Disaster Response sent an assessment team that met with church leaders to encourage them and offer their experience and expertise. Local leaders are guiding us in our response to their long-term needs and how the church can come alongside the community.

La Travesía (“The Journey”), the PCA church plant in San Juan, distributed donated relief supplies with assistance from MNA in the immediate aftermath of the storm. They have now joined with other churches to offer leaders monthly training in long-term development and recovery and are also adopting a needy community with damaged homes.

The winds of Maria are still blowing in many ways as recovery continues. We ask for prayer that the gospel of grace will continue to advance into new areas and, in the midst of change and loss, to provide comfort, peace, and hope in Christ.

Joe and Bev Fitzpatrick serve in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Please support future disaster response efforts at

Be prepared to serve with MTW in the wake of the next disaster. Join us for Global Disaster Response Training this October! Learn more at

Please login to continue
Forgot your password?
Recover it here.
Don't have an account?
Create an Account
Sign Up for Free
Choose Password
Confirm Password


On Mission Leadership Summit | October 31–Nov 1
Youth Ministry Leaders
Member Care Coordinator: Americas

Disaster Response in the Caribbean: Current Updates

Here's the latest on Hurricanes Irma and Maria and MTW's response. Check back for periodic updates.


A Parish Church Model in Thailand (VIDEO)

Trey was drawn to a ministry style where he could take his kids on walks and more easily get to know people in the community.


Anxious About Support Raising? Remember These 5 Things

Don’t let the fear of raising support keep you from pursuing a call to missions. It may not be easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.


Pray for those in Puerto Rico still recovering from Hurricane Maria, and for the growth and strength of the Church there. 

Pray for our partners in the Caribbean who were hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Pray for the city of San Juan, where violent crime and drug abuse is rampant. Pray for national pastors and lay leaders as they seek to transform the culture of their city.

Pray for the rebuilding efforts in Tacloban, Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Pray for those in the urban slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who are struggling economically due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Pray for ongoing ministry in the Suki community during COVID-19. Many day workers cannot work, and the church is having to find creative ways to minister. 

Pray for South Asian communities in New York City who have been hard hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and for God to use missionaries serving among them. 

Pray for the team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as national partners and MTW missionaries work hand in hand for a greater overall impact.

Pray for a new initiative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to hand deliver soap and provide education on disease prevention to 600 families in poverty-stricken communities. 


Good news in your inbox, once per week.