She spent more than 30 years working for the American Stock Exchange and other firms, maintaining a quality home and life in Bayonne with her son.
This changed on Sept. 11, 2001, when she stepped off the bus in front of her office, 100-feet from the World Trade Center.
"I saw falling glass and smoke," she said. "I didn't see the plane. So I thought someone had set off a bomb."
Vargas froze when she saw the second plane hit and saw people falling out of the sky. People helped her along, telling her it wasn't safe to stand where she was standing, and she moved along, leaving her purse behind as the cloud of dust flowed over her from the debris of the first falling tower.
Vargas got to the waterfront, where she got onto a private boat that transported her to Liberty State Park. Someone gave her a lift back to her home in Bayonne.
She rushed to find her son, who attended school in Bayonne, but local officials encouraged her to bathe first, since she was still covered in the dust.
This is a memory that sticks with her everyday and continues to haunt her. For almost two years, doctors thought she suffered from vertigo.
"I'm being treated for post traumatic stress now," she said, although she is still struggling to restore her life.
Fired from her job because she sometimes didn't feel safe enough to go to work, she eventually was placed on disability.
"When I did go to work, I wouldn't go above the second floor," she said. "I was frightened all the time. My boss fired me, and later, when he found out I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, gave me disability."
Even the sight of the police patrolling with bomb sniffing dogs unnerved her. The only place she truly felt safe was at home.
But on Feb. 23, she was notified by her landlord that she would have to move from an apartment where she lived for more than 12 years.
While she is currently disabled and has been placed on the top of the waiting list for affordable housing, she is scrambling to find a new home she can afford.
She said she is losing the one place she considers safe.
"I don't feel safe outside," she said. "I only leave to walk my dog, go to church and go for therapy. This is my safety zone."
Vargas, who pays $800 a month out of her $1,600 disability payments, has been looking for alternative housing.
"I thought I had another apartment on 31st Street," she said. "But the girl who was moving out changed her mind."
While she has tried to work with local real estate agencies, she said she cannot afford even reduced charges.
On April 1, Vargas expects to be homeless.
"I don't know what to do or where to go," she said.