Post-storm Puerto Rico is still in emergency mode. The crisis in Puerto Rico is not going away anytime soon. Help our fellow Americans get safe water and disinfectant in the midst of this unprecedented disaster. Dustin Alton Strupp’s story and images about WaterStep’s work in Puerto Rico made the print edition of the Courier Journal on November 5!
Our amazing Director of Training and Trips Claudia Daniels led a training on November 2 with representatives from four African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, and Ghana – and two South American countries – Surinam and Ecuador! So far this year, 266 people have been trained in water treatment, disinfectant, health and hygiene education and well-repair!
Update from the field, by Chris Kenning
At a remote crossroads high in Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central mountains, crowds on Saturday lined up with buckets and bottles to get rare, purified water from a tank in the back of a pickup truck brought by a Louisville-based WaterStep team, who worked until after dark purifying tanks in a town forced to use river water since Hurricane Maria took the country’s water systems offline.
“No one has come to help us, only you,” said one 63-year-old woman, wiping tears as she watched her dirty yard tank transformed into safe water for cooking, bathing and drinking.
Flowing water and music from a cantina created a joyful atmosphere on the latest day of WaterStep’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico setting up safe water systems. Locals spilled out of houses and shops to watch and thank WaterStep members Mark Hogg, Larry Freibert, Joe Jacobi, Bill Parker and Lynn Smith, who scrambled up ladders and used the M100 and BleachMaker to treat barrels of rain and river water.
In order to continue to combat the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, WaterStep and the National Puerto Rico Leadership Council Education Fund are working hard to raise funds to install WaterStep’s purification kits in all 78 Puerto Rican municipalities. The first 22 have been deployed with the WaterStep team and are being installed. To donate, please visit www.waterstep.org/donate-2 and write Disaster Relief in the additional comments section.
“It is a blessing to have Mark and our Board Member Alexandra Lugaro’s grassroots logistical skills working as a team to bring these life-saving water purification systems to my people in Puerto Rico” Carlos R. Guzman, president/CEO NPRLCEF, Inc
Update from Puerto Rico, by Chris Kenning
The WaterStep team in hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Thursday saw its first disaster water purifier system installed by a community near Vega Baja, bringing as much as 10,000 gallons of safe water a day to the neighborhood where municipal water isn’t safe or has shut down.
“The water comes and goes,” Manuel Class, a community leader of Vega Baja. “Now it’s easy for people to have water and take it home.”
In a barrio of Vega Baja, where bottled water is difficult to find and water trucks are rare in a city of 55,000 every few days, many take buckets, bottles and drums to a natural body of water called Ojo de Agua where children swim, people bathe and which contains trash and runoff.
“There’s a huge potential for it to pick up all kinds of pathogens associated with animals, with human waste, food waste – all sorts of threats that make the water unsafe to drink,” said WaterStep member Bill Parker, who accompanied community leaders who installed the system. “The community itself has no idea when their municipal water supply will be safe for them to utilize. So going forward they have a simple, easy-to-use system that will make the water safe for as long as it needs to be.”
The new system made its first 300 gallons within a few hours. On Friday, WaterStep continued its training sessions for more municipalities still struggling nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria.