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Direct Relief and Abbvie award $90K grant to Solar Responders

By on March 5, 2021

Grant will equip the Cataño fire station with renewable energy

Cataño, Puerto Rico – As part of Direct Relief and AbbVie’s commitment to supporting first responders in Puerto Rico, a grant of more than $90,000 was awarded to Solar Responders to install a solar power and battery storage system on the fire station in Cataño, Puerto Rico. This donation was made possible thanks to Abbvie and will ensure that these first responders can continue to operate the station and respond to emergencies when the power goes out. The Cataño fire station was chosen by the DPS because the municipal port is critical so that emergency response agencies, such as FEMA and US Coast Guard, can deliver aid to communities after a natural disaster strikes the island.

Ivonne Rodriguez-Wiewall, Executive Advisor for Direct Relief Puerto Rico explained: “Energy resilience is one of the five pillars of Direct Relief’s mission on the island. Installing renewable and resilient energy systems in strategic locations such as health clinics and fire stations will not only allow for continuity of operations after an emergency but will also empower first responders.” 

The energy system will ensure that the station’s 10 firefighters and 8 paramedics can do their jobs and call for mutual aid when another disaster compromises power and communications in Puerto Rico. The Secretary of the Department of Public Security, Alexis Torres expressed that “One of the great lessons we learned after the passage of Hurricane María is that we have to be resilient, be prepared for any eventuality. Especially the first responders, who are those who go out to save lives, put out fires and seek the safety of our citizens. We deeply appreciate entities such as Direct Relief and Solar Responders for allowing our firefighters to have a solar energy system in order to be more effective when providing services to our communities.”

After Hurricane Maria, the Cataño fire station became a shelter and point of refuge for the community. Neighbors went to the station to charge their phones, connect their medical equipment, and even store their medicines. The Mayor of Cataño, Félix Delgado Montalvo welcomed the donation stating: “The impact of Hurricanes Irma and María was devastating for my people. With a lot of effort and with the help of many good people, Cataño was able to get up and today we can say that we are on the way to reconstruction. This is why this effort by Direct Relief, Abbvie, and Solar Responders in the fire station of our town is a very valuable and important one. It prepares us for subsequent events and places us in a better position to face any atmospheric phenomenon or event that leaves us without electricity service.”

Javish Collazo, appointed commissioner of the Fire Department said: “We are grateful for Direct Relief’s initiative to implement this solar energy project. For the Bureau it means a vital benefit that is added to the multiple efforts made by the Department of Public Safety to improve the Bureau’s infrastructure.”  

From his part, Hunter Johansson, theFounder and CEO of the nonprofit organization Solar Responders, learned about the challenges faced by first responders during the aftermath of Hurricane María and he decided to take action.  “Power is everything for first responders because it supports their communications and the well-being of the communities,” said Johansson. Solar Responders’ mission is to maximize the capacity of first responders to save lives with renewable energy. For Johansson, being able to provide reliable energy to first responders “is a reaffirmation that they will have the tools needed to accomplish their life-saving work.”

For more information about Direct Relief’s efforts to increase resiliency in Puerto Rico go to https://www.directrelief.org/place/puerto-rico/.To know more about Solar Responders and its mission in the Island, please visit: https://www.solarresponders.org/ 

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