We are grateful for Kari DiPalma and her team of volunteers for delivering much-needed supplies, including your donated water filters to remote communities on the island. Read her account of their day in Adjuntas and Utuado…
On December 3, over a dozen of us journeyed in a 5-truck caravan into remote mountain areas of Adjuntas and Utuado. Two trucks made it the entire 12-hour mission, with other folks having to drop off due to fatigue, car troubles, or work.
We started at Escuela Portillo, an abandoned school that we found late in the day on our last trip. It is not an “official” shelter, but there are at least 10 adults and children living there with their pets because they have nowhere else to go. They have no power, water, or communications. They are waiting for FEMA assistance to rebuild their homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Maria. We provided them with solar lanterns, water filters, bottled water, human, cat, and dog food, pet meds, personal care items, new clothes, toys, and an inverter.
From there, we drove through the mountains, stopping on the side of the road to distribute aid where we saw people outside. It was dangerous work. The roads are steep and winding; many are washed out, so only one lane to pass. Blind curves mean lots of honking to let other drivers know you’re there because it’s steep cliff going down into ravines on one side and steep cliff into a mountainside on the other. We had to do a bit of backtracking from missed turn offs and non-existing roads.
Despite the challenges and uncertainty, we reached families and elderly folks who have seen no aid workers and received no help. No FEMA, no Red Cross, no private aid like us. Many have been without power, water, cell service, and communications since Hurricane Irma, three months ago. They are the bravest people I’ve ever met.
Altogether, we distributed over 100 solar lanterns, 50 water filters, and at least a half ton of food (for humans, horses, dogs, and cats), water, and other supplies. This was made possible by hundreds of people donating to dozens of different groups and individuals. It’s amazing how all of the money and supplies get funneled and distributed. I’m thankful to be part of this. You all inspire me. Thank you.