Residents of Barrio Paso Palmas, Utuado in Puerto Rico, were cut off from the rest of the island by a bridge collapse during Hurricane Maria. Residents were forced to cross a deep, fast-flowing river on foot, a dangerous crossing when the water swells during frequent torrential downpours in the mountainous area.
19 families in all, Red Cross volunteers recently helped them by bringing them relief supplies and a new way to get supplies across the river.
The Red Cross team delivered portable wood stoves with solar lights and chargers with USB ports. Led by volunteer Mariano Soto, the Red Cross workers carried the equipment across the river by boulder-hopping upstream to a shallow crossing. Community members prefer to cross close to their houses, in waist-deep swift water despite the danger. Part of the Red Cross team erected a pulley system to leave with the community so they can get their goods safely across the river without them getting wet or being swept downstream.
The electric light and solar chargers, as well as tarps, were then transported across the river using the pulley and given to the grateful residents who will share the stoves and lights. This is the second time the team has brought relief items to the community, previously carrying food and water across the river.
The rest of the team trained the families on using the stoves, solar chargers and water filters.
"Thank you for bringing us these stoves. We normally cook with gas but have run out of propane and didn't know how we were going to get the heavy propane tanks back and forth across the river," explained the families to Red Cross volunteer Mariano Soto. To show them how to use the stove, Mariano asked the residents to gather drift wood left by the riverside. The stove lit well with sticks of broken bamboo they found. The bamboo forests in this area were famous throughout the island, however were flattened by Hurricane Maria.
How You Can Help
The Red Cross is on the ground responding to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief for those affected. Help people affected by Hurricane Maria by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word MARIA to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.