top of page
  • Linda Smith, PhD

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

From Home Depot to Installation

Examining 200 gallon drums at the local Home Depot. Adolfo was hosting a fun competition for the most unique and functional truck bed design. Little did he know that days after his design was voted the best, his family would be living in the truck after their home collasped in the earthquake. His expert advice in using Rubber Maid buckets for the interior three filter units provided a sturdy and long lasting system worthy of providing years of safe water through hurricanes and earthquakes. We purchased three drums – two are held at Home Depot for pickup later in the week. Each water delivery system is different, therefore water input designs must be flexible.


Transporting drum from Home Depot to refugee camp on Hwy 10.

Refugee Camp residents lifted the drum off the truck bed onto pallets.


Fresh organic bananas for breakfast.


Linda and Jessica talking about women’s needs at the camp while Edwardo and his sister setup another tent for a family of seven. By the time the filter was installed four more tents were setup for new families.


Before installation After installation

Carrik (camp leader) and Albert celebrate the completion of Community Filter 1. Just one more pallet is needed to raise the height of the tap so a 5 gallon bucket can collect clean water.


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.


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

  • Linda Smith, PhD

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Arrival, Aftershocks, and Getting to Work

Through the help of many friends both old and new, I’m sitting in a studio apartment in Ponce, Puerto Rico. My grandson’s teary goodbye at the Denver airport was softened by a surprise egg candy/toy that I slipped into his hand. He said, “Nana, when you fly again, can I have another surprise egg?” My son-in-law loaded the airport cart with four suitcases – 3 with water filters and a backpack with my personal belongings. He pushed the cumbersome cart in 20ºF temps into the warm Spirit Airlines counter where we hugged. Then he returned to the car with my daughter and grandson.

Eleven and half hours later, I was checking out a little white Kia from the San Juan Airport. I texted Albert that my arrival at the Coffee House in Ponce should be around 11 a.m. As we sipped coffee, this gentle giant holding his 2 month-old baby boxer, Evita, slowly unwrapped weeks of his friends and his personal trauma, trauma that is now stored deep in their bones.

Just had a small aftershock:

I checked www. for a fast update 3.61 M

He calls several friends everyday to check on their emotional state. His calm voice and pragmatic advice calms them. A friend called Albert with an urgent request: infant formula was needed to supply a family with a young child in a remote area where they are surviving in a small tent.

Another aftershock: 3.87 M

Small stores only take cash right now, difficult for those whose jobs are on hold because the boss is afraid to keep the office open with the continued shaking.

11 aftershocks so far today

Our dear friend Anthony, who helped build the community filter in Guayanilla in 2017 has lost everything – his house, his mother’s room, and his workshop. His home that served as a resource center after Hurricane Maria is now cracked and water logged. In 2017, Anthony was joyful helping his fisher community. We ran trips to his hardware store for filter parts and met another friend Margarite who donated 100 five-gallon containers for water. Now he’s broken, confused, hopeless that his life, once fulfilling and generous, is no more. His family is surviving on the lawn of his in-laws, where more and more family members are finding comfort and a safe place to sleep. No one is permitted back to their homes in Guayanilla. The army has corded it off until engineers check the damage and the aftershocks are over.

Albert and I decided to head up Hwy 10 to an evolving refugee camp built just a week ago. The land near the road was terraced, flattened with fist size chunky tar pieces spread out as a surface. People are coming here from all over the southern region, not just those living nearby, but those who work in Ponce and can’t return to their homes. The camp is organized by locals. They leveled the site, put up tarps, built make shift showers and provided a safe place for belongings.

They’ve built a women’s wood shelter to provide bunk beds, cribs, and a special room for a disabled older lady, which is separated by a cloth wall. They have their own shower and hope to put in a septic tank for them as well.

The Women's (and Children's) Shelter
"Agua No Potable" Water Truck

“Agua no potable” is painted on the truck that brings water to the camp, so they are using bottled water to drink and the “agua no potable” water for washing and other needs.

After discussions with the camp leader, a kind, energetic man, we decided to put the 500- gallon community filter near the water source. Tomorrow Albert and I will make a run to home depot to collect the large water drum, PVC pipe, glue, and taps.

Installation should be quick, maybe 4 hours.

There is another group working in refugee camps in this area, a Puerto Rican mixed group of engineers, doctors, psychologists, nurses and others, who came together to help survivors of Hurricane Maria.

Today they are teaching the group how to make cots and encouraging them to personalize the canvas that covers the wood. A small playground with a shade canvas tarp was put up for the children.

Playground for the children

After the meetings and decisions as to where to place the filter were made, Albert drove up to his new home north of the camp and I drove south to check into my studio apartment.


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

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

The Earthquakes that hit Puerto Rico in January 2020 caused massive damage to island infrastructure. Read how Filters for Families is working to provide clean drinking water to residents and how you can help.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The earthquakes in Puerto Rico have left 300,000 people without drinking water and the entire island without electricity. As of Tuesday morning, there are 800 people in the southern area living in shelters. The first 2 weeks of a disaster are the most vulnerable for communities since basic supplies like water and food are difficult to locate.

Filters for Families (FFF) worked in Nepal in the 2015 earthquake disaster to provide 5,000 filters (30 liters/hour) and hundreds of 150, 250 and 500- liter water drums (flow rate 120 liters/hour) with Sawyer filters inserted in the top.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, FFF provided a 150- gallon tank and 67 individual filters to the fisher community in Guayanilla, Ponce and some local mountain areas. This is the same area affected by the recent earthquakes. A 2 -bucket Sawyer system filter is $45 and the large 150- gallon community filter is $300 (gravity flow no electricity is needed).

I will be traveling to Puerto Rico this Sunday at the request of FEMA.

Any help to cover my expenses will be appreciated.

These photos are of Albert and Antoni who built the large 150- gallon tank for the Fisher community in Guayanilla in 2017 after Hurricane Maria. I spent 2 months working with FEMA in the same area inspecting houses and distributing filters in my off time.

Follow me on this blog to hear about my progress and see new photos.

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

With much gratitude,

Linda Smith, PhD

Director, Filters for Families

bottom of page