#BtheChange: Gifford Jenkins-Davis Goes Extra Mile to “Power On Puerto Rico”
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After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, ReVision joined the “Power On Puerto Rico” relief project to help provide storm-ravaged communities with access to power, clean drinking water and lighting.
Led by a partnership between the global disaster relief organization Amurtel and the nationwide solar co-op Amicus Solar, of which ReVision is a founding member, the project is building and deploying “Solar Outreach Systems” outfitted with solar panels, batteries, water purifiers and charging ports.
ReVision’s Gifford Jenkins-Davis, a Solar Design Analyst and Journeyman Electrician, volunteered at every opportunity to help build the first three S.O.S. units. When the time came to transport them to Puerto Rico recently, he was invited by Amurtel’s project manager to accompany the transport in order to oversee electrical needs and provide training for locals.
Gifford and crew had to wait out unexpected beaurocratic delays and slow travel conditions on the island, but he managed to have the 3 S.O.S. units’ remaining electrical needs resolved in about 6 hours, finishing the work in middle of the night before his 5 a.m. flight home. Local Amicus-member Aireko electricians saw to the delivery and commissioning of the units, which are now meeting community needs.
Much Work Left to be Done
Gifford took note of the condition of the grid and infrastructure around the island:
“While many communities had some level of power restored, much of the infrastructure was only patched together. In most places traffic lights were still not working which made traveling very difficult and sketchy, especially in busy intersections.
We stayed in one neighborhood that had power but only during night hours. This was because utility workers were working on restoring power in a nearby village and had to shut power off during the day to work safely.
One early morning we were preparing to leave our Airbnb when we heard an explosion and the power went out. I could only assume that a transformer had exploded.
It was a solid reminder of the fragility of the existing infrastructure and the challenges that workers are facing to repair it. Downed poles and lines were strewn everywhere. Tall buildings with shattered windows appeared to be abandoned.”
Gifford continued, “The amount of work that remains to be done is astounding. I heard from one local teacher that some entire villages on the eastern coast had almost all homes flattened and people had nothing left. No home, no job, no power, no access to clean water.”
Be the Change
ReVision Energy is among the multitude who find it shocking how little the US government has done to help Puerto Rico get back on its feet after this disaster. Though we can’t single-handedly change the world, we can make appreciable changes to the lives of some, especially when we team-up with other mission-driven businesses, private volunteers, and nonprofit organizations.
The S.O.S. project continues on, especially as – sadly – we expect more climate change related weather events in the months and years ahead. Another S.O.S. trailer will be built this month, with more to come.