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Chicagoans help repair the orphanage and churches in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

JUNCOS, Puerto Rico (WLS) –

The Chicago area has intensified to help with the massive recovery effort in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in September.

This week, among those who help here are the Chicago Catholic Extension and a group of friends linked to the Chicago Riotfest music festival.


The group of eight inhabitants of Chicago, including Jeremy Scheuch, creative director of the Riot Fest music festival; Danielle Colby, of the television program "American Pickers"; and Louie Mendicino, general manager of Cobra Lounge in the West Town neighborhood, are in Puerto Rico this week to repair an orphanage damaged by a hurricane.

"Some US citizens are in need, these children need a roof, so we" "I do it for them," Mendicino said while working in the building.

The orphanage, called La Casa de Todos, which translates as "a home for all," is located in Juncos, about 80 kilometers southwest of San Juan. About two dozen children live in the orphanage.

"I had a special place in my heart because these children are so fantastic and deserve so much and unfortunately they do not have a voice," Colby said.

"We can help the whole island, but we know we can do a lot in one place and this is a place that we met instantly," Yes, this is where we're going to be ", said Scheuch.

The trio, along with their friends, are raising money through events and a GoFundMe page to buy the necessary materials to fix the roof, which was torn from the kitchen of the orphanage.

The children's house was founded by Sister Carmen Carmona 37 years ago.

The arrival of the inhabitants of Chicago is a blessing for her.

"Jesus answers my prayers and I send you here to help me," said Carmona.

The group will be in Puerto Rico for about a week, but it could be back as there is more work to be done.


Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich is in Puerto Rico and his week to study the damage of Hurricane Maria at the request of Pope Francis. It has been almost three months since the hurricane struck.

Inside the cathedral in Caguas, Puerto Rico, the masses can not be sustained because the roof has holes and the water still rots on the floor.

"They have about a million dollars with damages on the roof and then on the banks, and they think it will take another six months," Cupich said Tuesday.

Other churches across the island urgently need repair, including one that had a palm tree

The Chicago Catholic Extension manages donations and funds for recovery churches and their staff throughout the island.

"We're in this for the long term, we know we're potentially in for a five, and maybe a 10-year process," said Joe Boland, vice president of mission at Catholic Extension.


The slow recovery is a personal dilemma for Chicago-born Carmen Claudio and her husband, Hector. The hurricane soured his retirement dream, and the couple plans to return to Chicago.

"I did not think we were going to make it," said Claudio, who retired in Puerto Rico. "I thought the wind was coming, it was going to take us … I thought we would never see our children and our grandchildren again, and I still think about it, and when I speak it, I want to cry." . "


Cardinal Cupich will be in Puerto Rico all week. Check the updates online and online.

(Copyright © 2017 WLS- TV. All rights reserved.)

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