BILLINGS – A pastor from Puerto Rico said in Billings Thursday it may take 10 to 15 more years to recover from Hurricane Maria, which struck nine months earlier.
Pastor David Guadalupe spoke at King of Glory Lutheran Church on Thursday. The CEO and executive director of Lutheran Social Services of Puerto Rico was invited by David Trost, the president and CEO of St. John’s Lutheran Ministries in Billings.
Guadalupe has been working with St. John’s Lutheran Ministries and churches in Billings.
One idea is to bring people from Puerto Rico to work in Billings until their homes are repaired, he said.
Guadalupe said the church is place people in Puerto Rico know they can go for help. About 90 percent of Puerto Rico has electricity, which means about 100,000 people still do not have power.
"Its very important because this is our work,” Guadalupe said. “We’re supposed to walk with the people and we need to walk with the people every single day no matter what. No matter it’s a disaster, political issue, human right issue. No matter what, we need to walk with the people. And this is very important for us as a pastors, lays and all the persons in all the church. We need to walk with them."
Guadalupe said many Puerto Rico residents also suffer from mental health issues due to the devastation..
He said in addition to supplies, equipment, and rebuilding, the Lutheran Disaster Response also includes counseling and training for pastors.
Guadalupe is also the director of Lutheran Disaster Response, an interim pastor at a church and a communications director.Pastor Guadalupe is also part of the Caribbean Synod and is working with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.