Seventeen months ago, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. It was the most destructive storm to hit the island in more than 80 years, and it made a devastating impact on safe water, power, and health care services.
Although it’s been over a year, you have not forgotten Puerto Rico. Your ongoing and generous support has enabled us to continue partnering with rural communities to provide long-term, sustainable safe water solutions utilizing solar power.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, Water Mission installed generators in rural communities to deliver temporary power for their water systems. With your generosity and the support of corporate and government partners, we have been going back to many of these communities to implement long-term solar pumping solutions that will reduce their future dependency on the island’s electrical grid.
To date, we have served more than 50 communities, installing over 1,300 solar panels in 22 permanent solar arrays to provide 400 kW of power.
The solar arrays we’re building create sustainable and independent microgrids that will be resilient in the face of future storms. If a natural disaster is on the horizon, communities can quickly disassemble the array and set it back up when the danger passes. While the island’s electrical grid may be damaged and down for weeks, they’ll be able to use solar power to restore their safe water and sanitation systems within hours.
We’re still hard at work in Puerto Rico, and with your support, we are still serving more communities and celebrating new milestones.
In early February, we were thrilled to celebrate the commissioning of two solar-powered safe water systems in Barranquitas and Naranjito, Puerto Rico.
In Barranquitas, community members and government officials came together to formally launch the Palmarito Cintrón project. The project, designed and implemented with funding from the American Red Cross, is now providing reliable solar energy that powers safe water and sanitation for the 800 residents of Barranquitas.
And in Naranjito, the Las Cruces project is now serving 1,200 community members with these solutions, thanks to the generosity of the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Houston Astros Foundation.
Puerto Rico is no stranger to hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. As we celebrated the impact of these solar-powered systems in Barranquitas and Naranjito, many of us were thinking ahead to the next natural disaster these communities might face.
After Hurricane Maria, the Caribbean united around the focus to “Build Back Better.” In Barranquitas and Naranjito — as well as more than 50 other communities on the island — that’s exactly what we’ve been able to do. These sustainable solar-powered solutions make them stronger and more prepared for the next storm, while providing valuable safe water services today.
In the coming days, Water Mission is looking forward to participating in the 2019 Caribbean Strong: Building Resilience with Equity conference, where we’ll be sharing our experiences and key takeaways from working in Puerto Rico with other development partners.
We’ve been participating in Puerto Rico’s efforts to rebuild and restore for the last 17 months, and thanks to you, we’re not done yet. We’ll be working in at least 30 new communities in 2019, providing sustainable solutions that address both their immediate and long-term needs.