Extreme conditions spur innovative community response

Barrio Mariana, a hilly low-income community in Humacao, was one of the last areas in Puerto Rico to recover power and water service, nine and a half months after Hurricane María struck the island. Yet, the community was able to mobilize volunteers as well as channel funds to create a community center with a solar

Joining forces to rebuild homes

Several homes that suffered severe damage in Hurricane María in a distressed sector of Guaynabo called Vietnam were in urgent need of repair. The leadership team of the College of Architects and Landscape Architects (CAAPPR, Spanish acronym) knew there was a pressing need to rebuild homes and they had the expertise to identify the repairs

A network of Ham radio volunteers rises from María’s silence

Scores of international students at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus (UPRM) had no way of letting their families know that they were alive well after Hurricane María tore down most of the telecommunications infrastructure, creating a near total communications blackout in Puerto Rico. Then hope emerged. A licensed radio amateur (Ham radio) operator

Medical students provide access to basic healthcare

One of the things that has struck medical students working as volunteers in communities after Hurricane Maria is the importance of emotional wellbeing among the hundreds of patients tended to in community outreach clinics organized by the Universidad Central del Caribe. A third-year medical student who heads the volunteer group Medicina Urbana, Gabriel Colón, said

Restoring a natural jewel: Flamenco Beach

Flamenco’s white sands and turquoise water surrounded by hills and vegetation on the tiny island of Culebra have enticed hundreds of thousands of visitors over the years. Yet, two hurricanes in a row played havoc with the beach and its public facilities, severely damaging the island’s main attraction and revenue source. “For years Flamenco Beach

A manual to survive the effects of extreme weather for island homes

A group from Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise)  visited Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to find ways to help the island recover and rebuild thriving communities. Puerto Rico was not the only jurisdiction hit by the destructive hurricane season of 2017, which also touched the Florida Keys and the U.S.  Virgin Islands. In response to the

Addressing unmet needs in Cataño

The Asociación Pro-Juventud y Comunidad de Barrio Palmas came to life in 1984 to address a serious concern on the part of community members, the increasing incidence of delinquency among its youth. Little did the leaders of this community nonprofit organization anticipate that 34 years later Hurricane María would lead them to repair homes damaged

CONECTA: A Planning Tool to Build Resiliency

The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT) and United for Puerto Rico joined efforts to produce Conecta, a Geographical Information System (GIS) portal that lists nearly 200 non-profit organizations in Puerto Rico that provided relief and recovery services as part of the response to Hurricane María. In the event of another disaster, the

A way to give people hope to lift a community

To live up to its mission of promoting educational, economic and social development in southeastern Puerto Rico, the Programa de Educación Comunal de Entrega y Servicio (P.E.C.E.S.) had to stretch its capabilities and provide motors for fishermen in the area, undertake the rebuilding of homes, and repair the pier, a project that should be completed

Enacting projects that can spur recovery and transformation

Several chapters of the student nonprofit organization Enactus focused their social entrepreneurial initiatives on providing solutions to the countless difficulties faced by groups and communities in the wake of the disaster. A little over a dozen university student chapters from 10 colleges, including five campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, studied the needs of