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Wilkes-Barre Salvation Army leader deploying to Puerto Rico for hurricane relief
The Citizens' Voice - 9/25/2022
Sep. 25—The leader of the Wilkes-Barre chapter of the Salvation Army is being deployed to the United States territory of Puerto Rico to assist with hurricane relief efforts.
Lt. Ismael Ortiz, 38, of Larksville, leaves Philadelphia on Sunday and will fly to Caguas, Puerto Rico.
"There is no electricity and no water where we are going," Ortiz said Saturday.
Hurricane Fiona, a Category 1 storm, dropped record rainfall on the island, causing floods and landslides.
Ortiz, who took over command of the Wilkes-Barre Salvation Army in 2020 with his wife, is deploying as part of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Emergency Disaster Service Team.
He'll be tasked with spiritual and emotional care, Spanish-language translation and food assistance.
"I want to be a beacon of hope with words of encouragement," Ortiz said.
Ortiz and his wife, Irseris Ortiz, had comfortable private lives before they joined the faith-based charity in York as local officers 17 years ago. He was a Macy's store manager. She was a logistics expert.
They felt a calling to serve others and joined the Salvation Army, which provides food, shelter and hope to people. After more than a decade of serving as local officers, they decided to train to become commanding officers and pastors within the Christian church organization.
Irseris Ortiz will be in charge of the Wilkes-Barre chapter while her husband is deployed for two weeks.
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