Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20 and left a trail of unprecedented destruction and heartache. With 90% of electric power lost across the island, roads washed out and houses destroyed, help is still desperately needed. Parts of the island aren’t expected to have power restored for a number of months. Local non-profit Amurtel president Joni Zweig met with her team to determine how they could best provide assistance. Recognizing from president of Amicus, a cooperative of 45 independently owned solar companies, of which Aegis is a member. Founded in 2011, Amicus offers support for regional solar companies through purchasing power and project financing, and Amicus members openly share and collaborate on a wide range of business topics from operational efficiencies to sales and marketing strategies.
After initial meetings between Amurtel, Aegis and Amicus, the plan to rapidly design, build and deliver solar powered portable charging stations came together. Other Amicus members from around the country jumped on board, and the first units are expected to be delivered to Puerto Rico by the end of the year. These units will be loaned at no cost to communities for the duration of their need. Once the need is past the systems will be deployed to another area of the island or off-island as events dictate. By using this model, the program will have a sustaining impact on those in greatest need.
When Zweig communicated the plan to Amurtel team members on the ground in Puerto Rico, they were excited by the news. Although many parts of the island may see power restored in the next 4 months, team members reported that the poorer communities in the mountain areas could very likely be without power into the spring. Having a way to keep phones and laptops charged will provide hope and reduce the feeling of isolation that so often comes after a disaster of this magnitude.
Patty Giometti of Warren and Nancy Wilson Rhoades of Waitsfield have come on board as the project managers and design has begun! Although much of the design and components are being donated by Amicus members, financial support will still be needed to see the project succeed. Donations are tax deductible and can be made here. Or you can send a check to Amurtel, PO Box 232,Warren, VT 05674. For more information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s bring the light back to Puerto Rico!