Nairy Maysonet sat by the edge of a Puerto Rican mountain highway washing laundry in a drainage ditch. Nearby, a school teacher joined a stream of residents who stopped to fill bottles, buckets and plastic storage bins from a rainwater runoff pipe.

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Weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, most still lack electricity and many don’t have access to safe, clean water. Maysonet struggles to cook and bathe, and she shook her head explaining that stomach viruses from bad water are spreading in her small town.

“We need clean water, so it’s very hard,” she said on Wednesday, wringing out a shirt as trucks roared past the mountainside and one man soaped up nearby for a bath. “Some places you can buy water, other days no water.”

Louisville-based WaterStep is currently on the ground to help, arriving October 10 in the town of Vega Alta to provide water purification systems including M100 chlorine generators, 500-gallon bladder tanks, filters, pumps and bleachmakers and the training to operate them in 22 hard-hit and remot municipalities.

WaterStep founder Mark Hogg said Wednesday, the first of two days of training, that he hopes to find funding to deploy them to all 78 municipalities, bringing safe water for thousands in areas where bottled water hasn’t sufficiently reached until water systems can be repaired.

Update and Photo by Chris Kenning

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