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How You Can Help Puerto Rico in the Wake of Hurricane Fiona

This page was published a year ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

The entire territory of Puerto Rico is without electricity and thousands of residents are without access to drinking water after Hurricane Fiona barreled through the archipelago on Sun., Sept. 18.

The storm brought unprecedented levels of rain, according to local reports. In the words of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, the reported damages are “catastrophic.”

Many Puerto Rico-based environmental and community-based organizations are providing relief services across the island. Please consider supporting their efforts and spreading the word about their work:

Solar power is now providing an energy lifeline in Puerto Rico — where it is available.

  • Rooftop solar and storage systems were critical during and immediately after Hurricane Fiona for the few Puerto Ricans who have access to them.
  • “People who have solar panels and batteries have electric service,” reported Ruth Santiago, Puerto Rico-based environmental health advocate, attorney, and member of Earthjustice’s Board of Trustees and the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Nuestro Bosque Solar y la infraestructura instalada intacta. A muchos la energía de resguardo les sirvió bien durante el paso de Fiona. Tan pronto salga el, la generación en el punto de consumo regresa en lugares remotos que quedan rezagados por semanas del sistema central. pic.twitter.com/G98RT8oJA0

— Casa Pueblo (@casapuebloorg) September 19, 2022

Via @casapuebloorg
A “solar forest” that generates solar energy locally is undamaged following Hurricane Fiona. After the cloudy skies clear, it will begin providing electricity independent of the centralized grid.

Localized solar grids are a proven, climate-resilient solution.

  • Puerto Rico continues to remain beholden to an obsolete centralized energy grid that cannot withstand the current effects of climate change, even after the sweeping loss of human lives and natural destruction brought by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
  • It took nearly a year to restore electricity to all of Puerto Rico’s three million residents after Hurricane Maria. An estimated 3,000 people lost their lives.
  • A network of rooftop solar panels is being built by the grassroots environmental coalition, Alliance for Renewable Energy Now (Alianza para Energía Renovable Ahora) — represented by Earthjustice — with the goal of revolutionizing the way Puerto Rico harnesses and distributes energy.
  • “Distributed energy generation in Puerto Rico has proven its resilience through storms,” explains Raghu Murthy, senior attorney in Earthjustice’s Clean Energy Program.
  • But the coalition has faced stiff opposition from fossil fuel companies that want to keep Puerto Rico reliant on oil and gas imports.

Additional ways you can help: Add your voice in calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure investments fund a climate-resilient, 100% clean energy system for Puerto Rico.

A group of volunteers help install a solar power system on a community elder's home at Puente de Jobos community in Guayama, P.R., on Mar. 20, 2021.
Volunteers with the group Comunidad Guayamesa Unidos por tu Salud help install a solar power system on a community elder's home at Puente de Jobos in Guayama, P.R., on Mar. 20, 2021. The initiative by the group Comunidad Guayamesa Unidos por tu Salud (Guayama’s Community United for Your Health) has installed more than 10 solar powered systems in the area. (Erika P. Rodriguez for Earthjustice)