As part of long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane María, the American Red Cross announced it plans to install micro solar networks in about 100 schools in Puerto Rico, which in turn serve as a shelters in times of emergencies.
In all, the American Red Cross will invest some $20 million in the project. The micro solar networks at the schools will be used to power essential areas such as the kitchen, shelter area, water pumps and water heater, the organization stated.
“After our response to Hurricane María, we have focused on working with the recovery process in the communities,” said Lee Vanessa Feliciano, regional executive of the Puerto Rico Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“As part of this effort and with the interest of having more resilient communities and schools, we identified the need to equip them with micro networks,” she said.
“This project will not only better serve the population that use schools as shelters, but also the school community since it will prevent them from losing class time when the power goes out and they will also be able to return to schools more quickly after a disaster,” Feliciano said.
The Leoncio Meléndez School in Las Piedras and the Ramón Quiñones Medina in Yabucoa are the first schools outfitted with the solar micro grids.
During the emergency phase after Hurricane María, the Leoncio Meléndez School served as a shelter in which it served over 100 refugees and provided daily lunches to approximately 400 individuals from the surrounding community.
The solar panels installed have the capacity to withstand winds of up to 160 miles per hour and have batteries that will support the operation of the shelter and the school cafeteria on campus.
This effort is in coordination and in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Public Buildings Authority and the Puerto Rico Central Recovery and Reconstruction Office.
“We thank the Red Cross for this support to our schools in the installation of micro networks,” Education Secretary Julia Keleher said. “This project will contribute to more schools being prepared to attend to any atmospheric phenomenon and will allow them to offer faster services to students and the community in general.”
“It is a great benefit for all schools that are selected. We endorse this partnership for the benefit of our students and their families,” she added.
Por su parte Julia Keleher, la secretaria del Departamento de Educación expresó
In addition, the American Red Cross is working with other organizations to develop initiatives that contribute to three key areas such as health, clean and sustainable water and community and individual resilience. The funds that will be destined for these programs come from American Red Cross donors.