WaterStep returns from devastated Puerto Rico

WaterStep returns from devastated Puerto Rico
(Source: WaterStep)
(Source: WaterStep)
(Source: WaterStep)
(Source: WaterStep)
WaterStep delivered 22 safe water systems. (Source: WaterStep)
WaterStep delivered 22 safe water systems. (Source: WaterStep)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hurricane Maria caused such destruction in Puerto Rico, many residents are still in the dark, literally.

"Puerto Rico is a developed island," Joe Jacobi, a volunteer with WaterStep said. However, right now the island looks far from it.

Mark Hogg, CEO of WaterStep, a non-profit that provides and teaches people how to use safe water, said national media reports don't do the devastation justice.

"Shelves are empty of any kind of safe water," Hogg said. "There's no disinfection, there's no electricity, there's no cell phone coverage."

Hogg and volunteers with his organization returned from Puerto Rico on Monday.

They delivered 22 safe water systems. Each one allows people to chlorinate their own water. Bleach makers to help with clean up were also included in the kits.

"It's extremely complicated to try to figure out how to get water in all these different areas - some remote, some rural - and be effective," Hogg said.

WaterStep partnered with the Puerto Rican Leadership Council to ease the process. The council contacted mayors of Puerto Rico's various municipalities, so WaterStep volunteers could train residents on the systems.

"They've done this by personally going to visit them because there's no cellphone," Hogg said. "There's no electricity."

WaterStep volunteers found people drinking untreated river and rain water. Others were in areas so rural they hadn't seen help at all, until WaterStep volunteers arrived.

"They cranked up the music," Jacobi said. "They started dancing in the street. It was a very touching moment signifying the power of resilience of the human spirit, but also that of Puerto Rico."

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