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The Pipeline to Puerto Rico


Today marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the category 5 hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. WaterStep responded to the disaster by providing water purification systems and training in 22 hard-hit and remote municipalities.

One year later, WaterStep is still working to provide safe water to those displaced. There are currently 79 disaster kits on the island. Additionally, there are 33 M-100 Chlorine Generators and 27 BleachMakers providing lifesaving, clean water for drinking, bathing, cooking and much more.

WaterStep equipment continues to provide safe-water and sanitation to all the areas in red!


How Connections in Louisville Led to Disaster Relief in Puerto Rico

Connections in Louisville led to WaterStep’s disaster relief in Puerto Rico. However, disaster relief doesn’t typically derive from just one city or organization. It is often the harmony of humanity that carries these missions to fruition, and WaterStep’s response to Puerto Rico reflects this sentiment.

WaterStep’s relief work in Puerto Rico wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the help and support of organizations like GE Appliances, the National Puerto Rican Leadership Council Education Fund (NPRLCEF) and Agape Flights.

Fabian Robles, from left, Javier Robles, Caleb Maysonet, and Joe Maysonet fill up large trash cans with water from a drainage pipe off Highway 149 to take back to their communities where many are still without water three weeks after Hurricane Maria. Oct. 11, 2017


GE Appliances, headquartered in Louisville, donated $80,000, which covered the cost of 20 disaster kits and transportation to Puerto Rico. The company also provided a warehouse in Puerto Rico for WaterStep to store equipment and conduct training sessions.

Altogether, WaterStep raised a total of $297,000 to carry out the relief mission, with most of the donations coming from people and organizations in the Louisville area.

WaterStep volunteer Joe Jacobi leads a training session with the WaterStep chlorinator at a Presbyterian church in the Vega Alta municipality of Puerto Rico. Oct. 12, 2017


Carlos R. Guzman, president and CEO of the NPRLCEF, connected WaterStep to his organization, which then led to the creation of the relief mission that would benefit the locations impacted the most.

Agape Flights, a nonprofit Christian aviation ministry, flew the WaterStep disaster response team to Miami, Florida, and then the team chartered a plane to Puerto Rico from there.

WaterStep team members unload equipment and cargo at an airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to 22 water disaster response kits funded by General Electric, the Louisville based non-profit also shipped 7,100 meals donated by Love the Hungry and 350 meals-ready-to-eat, to aid residents still coping struggling after Hurricane Maria. Oct. 10, 2017



After the disaster response team left Puerto Rico, Cindy Figueroa continued working as WaterStep’s Director of Operations in Puerto Rico by training and distributing equipment across the island.

Community volunteers set up a WaterStep chlorinator and bag bladder at the “ojo de aqua,” or “eye of water,” which refers to a natural spring area that creates a water pool in the Vega Baja municipality of Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria hit the area, many residents have been using the spring for gathering water for drinking and home use, but the pool is also used for swimming and bathing. After completing training with WaterStep, the community members set out to set-up the first WaterStep system in Puerto Rico. Oct. 12, 2017


An Lilian Rivera fills jugs with water from a drainage piple along the roadside of Highway 149. Members from communities surrounding the Ciales municipality congregate in the area to refill water, having no access in their homes. Nearly 90 percent of residents on the island are still without power and many without access to water three weeks after Hurricane Maria. Oct. 11, 2017


Daniel Cruz Pagan, a resident in the Barrio Bozas in the Ciales municipality of Puerto Rico, a mountainous area hit hard by Hurricane Maria, stands inside what is left of his home. Strong winds from the hurricane stripped most of the roofing and wiped out complete sections of the home. “It was like nothing ever before. I lost everything,” Pagan said. “I thank God that I’m alive, but I have nothing.” Oct. 11, 2017


WaterStep team members begin setting up a 500 gallon water bladder tank inside a Presbyterian church in the Vega Alta municipality of Puerto Rico, just thirty minutes west from San Juan. On Oct. 12th, the team will begin training residents on how-to-use their water purification equipment in their own communities. Oct. 11, 2017


WaterStep Speaks in Front of the United Nations

Five months after the hurricane, Figueroa and WaterStep CEO Mark Hogg were invited to speak in front of the United Nations regarding the topic of women and girls in science.

Figueroa, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and is a professor in Puerto Rico, spoke on how she used her role as a scientist to help bring safe drinking water to those in her own community after Hurricane Maria.

“I never thought, that when I decided to study chemistry … I would be helping my country have safe, clean water,” Figueroa said during her speech at the UN. “With science, you can have so many opportunities to do great things.”

Help Bring Safe Water to Those Recovering from Disaster

One year after Hurricane Maria, WaterStep is still delivering clean water to help those in Puerto Rico and in North Carolina as we continue to responde to those in need. Your contribution helps save lives with safe water. Donate to the Puerto Rico project and other projects that deliver safe water to those in need .

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