• Linda Smith, PhD

Another community filter and the hunt for more buckets.



Day 5 (Internet Down)

The beach restaurant, La Rinconada (the corner place), in Guayanilla is the perfect place for a 200- gallon community filter. Owner/cook Herminio (on the right) and cook Victor (on the left) just opened after a month-long closure.


The earthquake hit this area especially hard; many homes are off limits marked by police yellow tape.

Water pipes were damaged, causing small “explosions” in the road when the utility pumps water. As a result, little if any water is reaching homes. Since the pipes are broken, water arriving at the house is contaminated during transport.





Houses that are marked with a red “X” are condemned by an engineer (below left).

The beach area subsided about 6 inches, flooding areas that were behind berms ( above right). Locals are saying the original beach profile was steep, but the sand brought in and subsidence has formed a gentler incline. We celebrated the installation with the most delicious conch empanadas while looking out to the new beach!

Day 6 (A Saturday trip to Hatillo and Bayamon to pick up buckets and lids)

After purchasing all the white 5- gallon food safe buckets in Ponce, we were in need of 200 buckets and 110 orange lids. Home Depot was short on both items. No problem I thought, I’ll order from another Home Depot. You can image my frustration when I found that shipping merchandise between Home Depots isn’t practiced in Puerto Rico! The helpful employee searched inventory in several stores and found a stash at two on the north coast about

2 1/2 hours away.






On Saturday morning, I set out in my tiny Kia, emptied of Sawyer units, various filter parts and the backseats lowered to make a hatchback.

Little did I know my wide lovely Highway 10 reverted to an old corkscrew path through the mountains. In daylight the single lane road, canopied by large trees, was manageable, but the night turned it into a horrid challenge complicated by heavy rain and fog! 110 lids were tucked in among the 70 buckets filling every slit and open space. Photo is from inside the Kia.


The first store was a few miles west of Arecibo. Yes, the famous observatory featured in the movie Contact. The observatory is 25 minutes from the south of the beach city, built into a dormant caldera. The center was closed due to recent earthquake activity over the last month and today a 5.0 M rocked the southern coast.

Thank you for your interest in Puerto Rico. Keep checking in on this blog to follow our filter installations and our efforts to address the needs of the community.


—Linda


To donate to bring fresh water to those affected by the earthquake, click here.


Checks can be sent to:

Filters for Families

2844 Depew St.

Wheat Ridge, CO 80214

  • Linda Smith, PhD

Two-bucket filters to the rescue

Camp 2

Nothing better than starting the day with a cup of Puerto Rican coffee, rich and smooth. We meet at the local Coffee House, discuss plans for the day and head up Hwy 10 with buckets, filters, drill and taps. Fog and drizzle keep the temperatures down but the damp must be hard on our friends in the camps. They are just like you and me—except one day an earthquake completely changed their life. Can you imagine putting toys, cloths, kitchen utensils in bags and living in a tent for an indefinite time? The rain turned from drizzle to a downpour, so Albert shifted filter materials from the back of the truck to Erika’s table. He put together three for the camp and gave each new filter owner training on maintenance. Our unique 2-bucket system protects the filter from dirty hands and rough use. Later we found a tent at a Walmart on the east side of town. Hopefully, Erika’s family will be protected from the curious mice.

Robert from Camp 2 focuses on training and later is surprised with a nerf baseball and bat . His brothers and their fierce neighbor, Alexandra, are preparing for some hot sport competitions. Days are really long for young people. Many schools are closed with no projections for opening.

Sonja is taking over filter maintenance for her multi-family unit in Camp 2. The group plans to build a special filter shelf near their forest kitchen. Most camps have portable toilets and creative showers.


Heading up to 3600 ft, we met Marybell, Edwardo’s mother at Camp 3 La Pica. Three more families joined their community since yesterday, placing tents near the community center. Marybell keeps meticulous records of all donations. We signed for the filters and Albert gave her training on cleaning the filter.

Traveling back down Hwy 10, we stopped at the Sisters family camp. Restless little ones fussed for mommy’s attention while daddies were in town picking up supplies. It was just a short visit to drop off a tarp and string.

At Camp 5, Campanento La Vaquena (cows own the land), Wendy, Franklin, Brenda and Rosemary shared some of their concerns over a cold cola. Without electricity it’s very dark at many camps. They would like a solar night lamp & some whistles for protection.




After Albert installed the filter, we met the newest family member also a refugee, albeit a fury one. One dark night her barking alerted the family to an intruder, sealing her special bond with the family. Her name is Hope.






This daily journal closes with the photo of a rainbow over Ponce. A sign of Hope.


Thank you for your interest in Puerto Rico. Keep checking in on this blog to follow our filter installations and our efforts to address the needs of the community.


—Linda


To donate to bring fresh water to those affected by the earthquake, click here.


Checks can be sent to:

Filters for Families

2844 Depew St.

Wheat Ridge, CO 80214

  • Linda Smith, PhD

Wasps, Mice, and Tents

At first glance the metal building looked plush compared to nearby tents. However, the space was used as a shed for animals – thus the floor was covered in manure, straw and feed. Wasps who built nests in the ceiling were actively attacking the new residents; Erika’s young son was stung while he slept. Mice also share the space and seem reluctant to leave as they curiously scavenge the floor at night. The owner opened the gate when he saw so many people camped out along the road. Now there are four groups on his property living independently from their neighbors. Erika missed the group handing out tents. She wishes they could put one inside the metal building to protect them from animals as they sleep. We checked stores in Adjuntas for tents, but the supplies were exhausted. Our best quick solution included queen size mosquito nets, rope and mouse traps. Tomorrow we install three filters and train the group how to maintain the filter.

The second camp we visited is known for unique views of both the north and south coasts (when the sun is shining!). A large community center provides food and a place for teens to hang out. The building has a large multi-purpose room, but everyone is afraid to sleep there due to continued aftershocks. A water tank provides “no potable” water, so we’re installing a 2-bucket filter. To our surprise we saw Edwardo, from camp 1 driving out of the parking lot. He stopped to chat and we found that he and his mother were setting up the camp for the Central Mountain area. His mother is talking with Albert in the last photo. They expect more people to set up tents and join the refugee community.



Thank you for your interest in Puerto Rico. Keep checking in on this blog to follow our filter installations and our efforts to address the needs of the community.


—Linda


To donate to bring fresh water to those affected by the earthquake, click here.


Checks can be sent to:

Filters for Families

2844 Depew St.

Wheat Ridge, CO 80214

Donate to our efforts in Puerto Rico

To donate to the work Filters For Families is doing in Puerto Rico in 2020 use the PayPal button below.

If you would like to donate by check, then checks can be sent to:

 

Filters for Families

2844 Depew St.

Wheat Ridge, CO 80214 

To learn more about how donations are used and about other Filters For Families projects go to our website. 

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