NEW PALTZ - Jackson Rogers from the New Paltz United Methodist Church joined the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) team traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico to help people rebuilding after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island in September 2017.

Rogers was a first responder and a New York City firefighter for 27 years, so he didn't think twice about assisting people in crisis. He is also an experienced carpenter and led a team of seven men and two women to repair the house owned by a 70-year-old cancer survivor. The owner said FEMA put a tarp on the damaged area and promised to be back, but seven months after the storm he was still waiting for their return.

Jackson said this job was challenging for many reasons. It was nearly 100 degrees every day. They brought some tools with them, but required other equipment after the job assessment, and they had a hard time finding the supplies they needed because many of the stores were sold out. Luckily, UMCOR established a warehouse in the city, which sent a truck to their site every day delivering necessary materials.

Other than helping others, Rogers said the high point of the trip was the day he attended a service at the United Methodist Church in San Juan.

“The sound of the congregation singing was beyond incredible. I felt a spiritual connection. It was very moving,” said Rogers.