Captain Alex Velasquez says he is still sore from his volunteer work in Puerto Rico.
“We`d run 14 to18 vehicles a day, we would load them all up with a truck full of boxed food and water and we would start heading to the hills and mountains,” he says.
His group of 20 volunteers passed out 28,000 meals in just one day.
“I knew we were going to see a devastation but I had no idea it was going to be that extreme,” says Velasquez.
The group decided to extend their deployment and extra week to continue their work on the island.
During that time Captain Velasques found his family, whom he hadn't spoken with since Hurricane Maria hit, including his elderly stepfather.
“I called out his name, Mario! I could hear (his) scraggly voice… when he came out, he saw me and just started bawling and so did I,” says Velasquez, who tried to convince his stepfather to leave his home to come to the United States.
“He was so loyal to his homeland and rebuilding Puerto Rico, that at 94-years-old he refused to leave,” says Captain Velasquez.
His stepfather died three days after Velasquez returned to Davenport.
“The recovery efforts were just too much for him…. I’ll probably never see the old Puerto Rico that I’ve grown to love and know. Now I have this stain in my mind of what it looks like now.”
Right now, there are still about 3,000 salvation army volunteers still left on the island.
Captain Velasquez says he hopes to return to Puerto Rico to continue his volunteer work.