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Abilene group traveling to Puerto Rico to give out filters for safe drinking water

Parts of Puerto Rico continue to lack running water nearly five months after a Category 4 hurricane hit the island.

However, a few people from Abilene are hoping to change that by traveling there to give residents water filters that will create safe drinking water for them.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 20 percent of Puerto Rico still doesn’t have running water after Hurricane Maria.

Russell Weathersby is joining the group traveling to the United States territory on Feb. 19 for a five-day trip.

"You've never witnessed anything until you see someone who's thirsty get that safe drinking water," Weathersby said.

Besides Weathersby, the group includes the Southwest Park Baptist Church's senior pastor and representatives from Global Samaritan Resources. They'll be installing six water filters in a mountainous area.

"They were just short of fulfilling their dreams in life because they were held back from the common things we have each and every day," Weathersby said.

Weathersby has been a member of Southwest Park Baptist Church for the last 13 years and this will be his second visit to the U.S. territory, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.

For Senior Pastor Mike Woodard of Southwest Park Baptist Church, this will also be his second trip to Puerto Rico and he describes the journey as a calling.

"As we have this opportunity to expand our witness, we're not confined by borders, but instead an awareness of need," Woodard said.

Hendrick Health System donated the funds to buy the filters at $1,500 each.

Executive Director of Global Samaritan Resources Michael Bob Starr said that they've previously installed these kinds of water filters in the Philippines, Nepal and Haiti.

"I don't think that you have to make a choice between helping people that are far away and helping people that are near," Starr said.

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