Our Disaster Response Team is coming to the end of their second week in Puerto Rico, working with the Footprint Project to assess the potential for a more extensive program to assist communities in the wake of ongoing earthquakes. Unlike previous NECHAMA deployments which focused on manual relief in the form of muck and gut operations, chainsaws, and other similar work, our time in Puerto Rico has focused on emergency power supply for communities.
Power continues to be one of the most significant challenges in Puerto Rico and one of the areas of greatest need for people suffering from the ongoing earthquakes. In many cases, water access is connected to power through pumps and other means, compounding the effect power loss has on families and communities. The lack of power makes it difficult to keep medication like insulin refrigerated, charge critical medical equipment people need to stay safe and healthy, and keep phones and computers changed.
With many families now entering their 3rd week living in tents because homes are not safe to return too, their lack of access to power continues to threaten their safety and wellbeing.The most accessible options available to these families and communities are often large military or donated gas generators. These units are loud, smell strongly of exhaust, and are expensive to purchase, maintain, and run. Many families in need of emergency power can not afford these as an option.
Through our partnership with the Footprint Project, we have been able to provide solar-powered options that can address and ameliorate many, if not all, of these issues.
NECHAMA’s mission is repairing the world and providing comfort and hope to communities by engaging volunteers in disaster recovery work. We believe that while this type of work has not been an area we have explored heavily in the past – it can and should be a part of NECHAMA’s future.
As our assessment continues for another week, our work offers NECHAMA a blueprint to respond sustainably to future disasters, as well as envision recovery opportunities where installing solar stations could build back better in Puerto Rico and elsewhere after future disasters. You can support our work with a donation today!