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Maine company’s solar power systems to aid Puerto Rico

ReVision Energy will help provide the islanders with the means to charge their phones and other small gadgets.

By Peter McGuireStaff Writer

Two months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, over half its residents are still without power as lines in San Juan and other places have yet to be repaired. Maine-based ReVision Energy plans to aid the island with small systems powered by the sun. Associated Press/Carlos Giusti

A Maine solar energy company is building emergency equipment for parts of Puerto Rico still without power two months after a powerful hurricane devastated the island.
ReVision Energy has partnered with a national solar electricity cooperative and international relief organization to build and deploy dozens of portable trailers outfitted with solar panels to provide emergency power.

“There are still hundreds of thousands of people who do not have any power whatsoever,” said ReVision co-founder Phil Coupe. “They are not expected to get power for a long time. This will come in very handy for the folks who have been without electricity for so long.”
Called “solar outreach systems” – or SOS – the 12-foot-long trailers are equipped with six solar panels that can be folded onto the trailer body. The small systems will generate enough power to charge cellphones, lights, radios and laptop computers.
“This is going to be supplemental emergency power for basic lighting, small electronics, communications,” Coupe said. “We won’t be able to run buildings.”
Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, blew through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, ruining the island’s electricity grid and leaving millions without power and clean water. As of Monday, about 47 percent of Puerto Rico had electricity, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
Advertisement ReVision will install solar cells on trailers at its North Andover, Massachusetts, warehouse before shipping them to Puerto Rico. The Aireko Foundation, a wing of Puerto Rican Aireko Energy Solutions, will deploy the systems. ReVision has offices in Portland and Liberty in Maine, and in Brentwood and Concord, New Hampshire.
ReVision plans to outfit 10 systems initially, and 100 in total. It may take three to six months to finish building all the planned units, Coupe said.
Although Puerto Rican authorities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hope to restore power generation to most of the island by the end of the year, the ReVision systems will be important resources because they can be redeployed to other places that need emergency power, Coupe said. The systems will be loaned to communities for as long as they’re needed.
“Based on the level of damage that we are getting reports on, these things will be useful for a year or more,” he said.
The panels and trailers were initially provided by Amicus, a solar purchasing cooperative based in Colorado. ReVision and Aireko are Amicus members.
“It is a 100 percent volunteer donation. Nobody is getting paid,” Coupe said.
The systems will provide relief, but also showcase solar power’s ability to provide reliable power in areas prone to harsh weather and widespread power loss, including Maine, Coupe said.
ReVision and other companies are increasingly being asked to build solar systems with battery storage for emergency power during weather events like the windstorms that knocked out power to almost 500,000 Maine homes and businesses in late October.
“We are preparing for a climate where bad weather events are getting worse all the time,” Coupe said. “In that environment, a utility grid infrastructure with poles and wires is extremely vulnerable. Systems with power regeneration and batteries are proving to be resilient to those events.”
 

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Power for Puerto Rico? Twin Cities solar energy consultants see opportunity



By Frederick Melo | [email protected] | Pioneer Press
PUBLISHED: November 25, 2017 at 11:00 am | UPDATED: November 25, 2017 at 6:11 pm

After spending three months this summer helping the United Arab Emirates write procedures for a new nuclear power plant, Peter Reese followed his wife’s advice and returned home to the cooler climate of South Minneapolis without a job in hand.
And then, in late September, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, and Reese watched in informed disbelief as the federal government promised to rebuild the country’s devastated transmission lines and electric grid, one plant at a time, and restore power within a year.

As far as he’s concerned, that’s not just unrealistic. It’s foolhardy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency “is only there to rebuild things as they were,” said Reese, a former Xcel Energy contracts manager who seized on the Puerto Rico opportunity to launch his own renewable energy nonprofit, Energy Releaf, in late September. “And ‘as they were’ is 40-to-50-year-old petroleum-burning plants sending energy through transmission lines over the mountains.”
And it’s not working. Two months after Maria made landfall, more than half the U.S. island territory is still without power. Yet even before the hurricane hit, blackouts were common and fuel prices were the second-highest in the nation.

ANSWER IN SOLAR?

Reese points to privately-funded success stories that occurred where federal and local government programs have both fumbled. In late October, while most of Puerto Rico remained bathed in darkness come nightfall, Tesla CEO Elon Musk turned the lights on at San Juan’s Children’s Hospital using rooftop solar panels and batteries.
In New York City, the Coastal Marine Resource Center has launched “Resilient Power P.R.,” aimed at delivering solar-electric systems to the island’s most remote areas.
Pledging to resurrect his grandmother’s house with solar panels on the roof, stage composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, of “Hamilton” fame, recently told CBS News “we have an opportunity in the wake of tragedy to rebuild, and rebuild smarter, and rebuild better.”
Reese agrees.

NOT EITHER-OR

In Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth since 1952 and under U.S. control since 1898, the arguments against subsidizing solar power fall by the wayside, say Reese and other industry advocates. The federal government has already made at least a $5 billion commitment to bring the island’s energy back.
“I think we get caught in an either-or mindset,” Reese said. ” ‘You’re not going to be able to replace all of Puerto Rico’s grid with solar, so don’t try.’ Well, there’s places where repairing a traditional power plant makes sense. But where that’s been devastated … solar can do it cheaper and faster. If the hurricanes took your transmission lines and knocked the whole thing over, you’ve got to start from scratch anyway. You’ve got to bring in the poles and you’ve got to bring in the wires.”

Michael Allen, CEO of All Energy Solar in St. Paul, said modern technology could easily allow installation of “micro-grids,” which would serve as back-ups for certain areas or buildings inside the traditional grid structure.
“Right now, when the main power plant, or the ‘mother ship,’ goes down, she usually takes everything else down with it,” Allen said. “Now we can tap into technology to isolate certain neighborhoods so they can have power even when there is a power outage.”
“It can be as easy as installing a back-up power supply, whether it’s windmills or solar power battery,” he added. “You can do it for a residential area, or where micro-grids are gaining a lot of attention … community centers or hospitals that can’t afford to be without power for an extended period of time. These are things that are available right now.”

THIRD-WORLD TECH LEAPFROG

John Farrell, a senior researcher with Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has written at length about the energy challenges facing Puerto Rico. He worries that with a simple grid rebuild, the island will lose local oversight of PREPA, its failing, outage-prone energy utility, which had a $4 billion maintenance backlog even before the hurricane hit, opening the door to predatory practices by outside companies.

Corey Orehek, marketing director for Roseville-based solar energy developer IPS Solar, noted that Puerto Rico imports most of its fuel. “With energy prices being so high on the island, and their heavy reliance on diesel fuel, this would be a great opportunity to start incorporating solar energy in Puerto Rico,” Orehek said. “This also may be an opportunity for a technology leapfrog — much like so many people around the world who didn’t have land-line phones were able to acquire cellphones.”
Meanwhile, Orehek and other advocates say that if the mounting number of natural disasters in populated areas are the new normal, then utilities need to adapt, as well.
“IPS Solar had a client near the BWCA (Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area) who survived heavy forest fires because of their solar-plus-battery storage system,” Orehek said. “They were the only ones in the area that didn’t lose power.”
Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, general manager at Cooperative Energy Futures, a Minneapolis-based energy efficiency organization, thinks remote and undeveloped areas lacking in utility infrastructure are perhaps the most ripe for solar energy, especially near the equator.
“Parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent are already finding it cheaper to develop local solar and storage energy systems to provide electricity than it is to build a new energy grid,” DenHerder-Thomas said.
And in Puerto Rico, a full grid repair will take time, especially in the island’s hardest-to-reach mountain areas — more time than the federal government has let on, Reese said.

UNREALISTIC PREDICTIONS?

Days after the hurricane made landfall on Sept. 20, official FEMA predicted that restoring energy to the island of 3.4 million people would take six months to a year, costing the U.S. some $5 billion — two predictions that make Reese shake his head in disbelief.
As if to confirm his worst fears, in late October the governor of Puerto Rico canceled a $300 million, 100-mile contract with a two-person Montana company called Whitefish. The governor called it a 10-to-12 week setback.
“That’s $3 million a mile, before distribution costs,” said Reese, noting Puerto Rico is home to 2,400 miles of transmission lines, 80 percent of which “were flattened.”

At this rate, he figures $10 billion to $20 billion to repair the traditional electricity grid would be a more realistic cost estimate. For as little as half that price, he believes, the government could equip all 1 million homes on the island with solar technology. And with most of the island still bathed in darkness at sundown two months after Maria’s landfall, there’s no way in his view that power will be fully restored within a year under the current approach. Well before FEMA has the lights back on, back-up generators could shut down for good.
“In mountain areas, helicopters are going to have to drop equipment,” said Reese, who points to media reports from early October that showed 17 of the island’s 69 hospitals operating off the power grid. “The rest were operating on fossil fuel generators — so diesel gas. Every hospital is different, but many of them burn 2,000 gallons a day. Even at normal fuel costs, that’s $6,000 a day. And generators aren’t meant to run months on end. Official reports still say it’ll be 6 months to a year before power is restored. And they were saying that the day after the hurricane.”

A NEW NONPROFIT

The day after the hurricane, Reese drove himself to the home of his friend and fellow entrepreneur, Francesco Marraffa, to make a pitch. Marraffa had spent 10 years as an international salesman in the oil industry before switching to real estate investment. “I went over to his house and said, ‘dude, this is messed up,’ ” Reese said. “Do you think we can work together? And within five minutes, we were shooting ideas back and forth.”
They noted that at 18 degrees latitude above the equator, Puerto Rico has the perfect sun exposure to benefit from small-scale solar energy installations on homes and commercial buildings. The limited solar paneling that already exists in Puerto Rico survived the storm surprisingly well, at least when it was installed to modern codes and at angles almost flush to the roof line, preventing the wind from getting underneath the equipment. Another benefit: homes in Puerto Rico tend to run smaller than they do in the continental U.S., so they need less electricity.

Reese and Marraffa formed a nonprofit, Energy Releaf, aimed at rapid response to natural disasters. Reese believes there are 100 solar projects ready to go in Puerto Rico and neighboring St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. which was hard-hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria. With local and international firms donating time and equipment, each project is being implemented for an average of $5,000. Even without charitable donations, Reese believes that if the U.S. government or another backer bought equipment in bulk, Puerto Rico’s 1 million homes could be equipped with solar power for $10,000 apiece.
In early November, Marraffa boarded a plane to China to meet with factory producers of solar energy panels, which are hard to obtain in mass quantity in the U.S. “They’re years ahead of us,” said Reese, noting the U.S. could still fill in other gaps in the solar industry by training electrical technicians and improving the cost and efficiency of solar batteries.
There’s an argument to be made, said Reese, for learning from the past, rather than repeating it.
“It didn’t take a hurricane to cause power blackouts in Puerto Rico,” he said. “They had blackouts before. A storm would hit a substation and there’d be blackouts across the island. … We’ve got an opportunity in Puerto Rico where the utility is struggling. They’re essentially bankrupt. The government is bankrupt. … The poor and vulnerable are always the most at risk, and the last to get their power back.”
 

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Roque, salvaje, tercer mundista.

US Congress aims to Ban C ock-Fights in Puerto Rico

November 26, 2017

The senator for the district of Guayama, Axel Chino Roque will file this week a concurrent resolution rejecting the project HR 4202 of the United States Congress that intends that the “Animal Welfare Act” be applied to the territories, thus imposing a ban on the celebration of C ock fighting sports on the island that could affect, according to the legislator, 27,000 families.
“The sport of cockfights has been in constant dispute for decades by groups that consider it animal abuse. It has been discussed over and over again several times in the history of Puerto Rico and has even overcome other prohibitions, “he recalled in a statement.
Thus, “after many struggles it has been declared a legitimate sport in Puerto Rico. We are here to represent the people, so it is up to us to echo their voice and defend our economy, traditions and culture, “said Roque.
According to the senator, who also chairs the Youth and Sports Commission, the project set up earlier this month by Representative Peter Roskam in the House of Congress of the US, “undermines the practice of a sport that has thousands of followers in Puerto Rico “.
He also stressed that the island is considered the “mecca of the international sport of cockfighting” so its ban would affect, he said, also the island’s tourism.
“It’s a self-sustainable sport. It does not cost the government a single penny, on the contrary, it contributes to the economy of the country. It generates thousands of direct and indirect jobs per year. Its practice represents a substantial economic injection to the island’s Tourism, “he said.
If the senator’s resolution is approved, a certified copy will be prepared and translated into English to be sent to the members of the United States Congress.
 

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Detesto las peleas de gallo pero eso aquí es intocable y tengo que estar de acuerdo con el Senador de Guayama.

Me encanta como los Congresistas a los que no les importa PR quieren imponernos cosas que afectan aún más lamaltrecha economía.
 

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Esto seria el resultado de la relacion de Puerto Rico con el gobierno federal. Algo asi como la ley del matrimonio igualitario. Todos sabemos que eso nunca hubiera llegado si no fuera por el gobierno federal.

Dudo muchisimo que el congreso estaba pensando en Puerto Rico al legislar esta ley. Por mi, bienvenido sea, es una practica cruel y bochornosa. Esto NO tiene lugar en un pais civilizado.
 

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USDA otorga más de $10 millones a los agricultores

Mon, Nov 27, 2017

Por redacción de Sin Comillas

Las solicitudes para dicho programa de emergencia se aceptarán hasta el 19 de enero, del 2018

El Servicio de Conservación de Recursos Naturales (NRCS) del Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos (USDA, por sus siglas en inglés) asignó $10.9 millones en asistencia técnica y financiera para ayudar a los agricultores de Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes para reparar daños y recuperarse después de los huracanes Irma y María.
“El USDA sigue comprometido a ayudar a la gente en la agricultura puertorriqueña con todos los medios a nuestra disposición. Con estos fondos, podemos ayudar a los agricultores locales a reparar los daños causados por los huracanes Irma y María, a sus tierras y a las prácticas de conservación existentes”, dijo el Secretario de Agricultura, Sonny Perdue.
“A través de EQIP, co-invertimos con agricultores para reparar y prevenir la erosión del suelo, atender inundaciones y otros problemas de calidad del agua, así como cualquier otra preocupación de recursos resultante de eventos de alta precipitación e inundaciones”.
Para acelerar la recuperación ante los desastres, NRCS está emitiendo exenciones que permiten a los agricultores recibir pagos y comenzar a implementar prácticas de conservación antes de la aprobación del contrato. Las prácticas pueden incluir la disposición del ganado muerto, la construcción de instalaciones de mortalidad animal, el reemplazo de techos en edificios agrícolas y la remoción de escombros.
Se les pide a los participantes que presenten una solicitud de EQIP y una exención para comenzar a implementar una práctica, aún antes de firmar el contrato. Mientras tanto, los agricultores que han trabajado anteriormente con NRCS también son elegibles para recibir asistencia para implementar nuevas prácticas de conservación o reparar prácticas afectadas por el evento.
NRCS acepta aplicaciones de EQIP durante todo el año en un registro continuo. Pero los propietarios deben presentar sus solicitudes antes del 19 de enero del 2018, para ser considerados para este fondo de recuperación de desastres. Los agricultores deben visitar su centro de servicio local de USDA para solicitar.
 

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Sadly, The Republican controled congress wil never go for this.

Bernie Sanders to unveil a $146 billion ‘Marshall Plan’ for Puerto Rico

By Jeff Stein November 28 at 6:00 AM

Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s decades-old electrical grid when it made landfall on Sept. 20, rendering millions of island inhabitants without power.
On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil an ambitious $146 billion Puerto Rico recovery plan he says will allow renewable power sources such as solar and wind to provide about 70 percent of the island’s energy needs within the decade.
The bill, which has the backing of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, also calls on Congress to consider retiring Puerto Rico’s debt and would give the island billions in additional federal funding for transportation, health care and education in the hopes of stemming a feared mass exodus to the mainland. It would also allocate funds to the Virgin Islands, which were similarly devastated by Hurricane Maria.

“This is the closest we have to a Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico,” said Ramón Luis Nieves, a former member of the Senate of Puerto Rico who has testified to Congress about the hurricane’s impacts.
Sanders's bill is highly unlikely to get a vote in Congress and is more generous even than the $94 billion requested by Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s governor.
Sanders’s bill would give $62 billion to help the cash-strapped Puerto Rican government; $51 billion for economic development; $27 billion for infrastructure, including new energy infrastructure; and billions more for education and environmental remediation.
The Trump administration has requested $29 billion in emergency natural disaster funding to be shared between Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas — but only a fraction is designated for Puerto Rico. That package is expected to pass.
“More than two months after Hurricane Maria, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, most of the homes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still without electricity. This is beyond belief,” Sanders said. “Congress must work with the people of Puerto Rico to fundamentally transform its expensive, antiquated and unreliable system.”
Puerto Rico's energy grid is maintained by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which has come under fire for what critics have called its slow and ineffectual response to the hurricane. PREPA drew congressional scrutiny for awarding a no-bid $300 million contract to Whitefish, a small Montana firm. PREPA, which filed, in effect, for bankruptcy last July, is the sole provider of electricity for the island's 3.4 million residents.
Conservative lawmakers and several members of Puerto Rico’s fiscal oversight board have called for parts of PREPA to be privatized.
“The board certainly considers privatization one of the options going forward,” Natalie Jaresko, the executive director of Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board, said to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) at a recent House hearing. “There’s currently a question that remains open to see whether it’s privatization of the entire power sector … or some select part.”
Sanders's bill, which would put $13 billion into rebuilding the electrical grids in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, would bring the debate about privatizing PREPA to a head. The measure explicitly prohibits public infrastructure receiving federal aid, such as the electrical grid, from being transferred to private ownership.
But Puerto Rican officials say they are already working with private-sector companies to install solar panels and microgrids in remote sections of the island.
Sanders' bill would set aside $428 million in grants for homeowners and cities for solar panels and microturbines and more than $40 million for grants to improve home energy efficiency.
“The case for renewables is that it’s the cheapest way to do it, and certainly the cheapest in the island’s isolated communities,” said Steven Kyle, an economist at Cornell University who has reviewed Sanders’s bill. “Since they’re starting from zero, they have a unique opportunity here.”
Most engineers estimate that Puerto Rico could get up to 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources within the decade, according to Sergio Marxuach, public policy director at Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan think tank on the island territory. “Seventy percent is definitely on the upper bound of what’s possible,” Marxuach said. “But, sure, if you throw enough money at a problem, you can do a lot of things.”
In a statement, Rosselló thanked Sanders for trying to help Puerto Rico, though he stopped short of offering an endorsement of the bill. “We are committed to rebuilding Puerto Rico smarter and stronger than ever before, but we need all the assistance we can get from the federal government,” Rosselló said. “We welcome all discussions and proposals being discussed in the United States Senate, including Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed bill, that seek to provide the resources necessary to rebuild Puerto Rico.”
Luis Fortuño, the former governor of Puerto Rico, said that he thought it would be a mistake to prevent transferring parts of the electrical grid into private ownership. “You need a lower cost of power, and the only way to accomplish that is through a competitive process through the private sector,” said Fortuño, who added that he hadn’t read Sanders’ proposal and that he supports its greater public investment in renewable energies.
Experts have emphasized that the federal government should not simply replace Puerto Rico’s old grid with a new one similarly exposed to catastrophic storms.
A senior White House official told Reuters that the administration does not support rebuilding the original vulnerable grid. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has backed rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electrical systems with microgrids or through distributed energy — but the senator hasn't yet introduced legislation for doing so, according to a spokesperson.
“It’d be a phenomenal mistake to spend federal tax dollars rebuilding the polluting, expensive, decrepit grid,” said Judith Enck, who oversaw Puerto Rico as a regional administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency during President Obama's administration. “My great fear is FEMA will reconstruct the old grid — and when the next hurricane hits, it will all come tumbling down again.”
Nieves, the former Puerto Rican state senator, said that while he supports Sanders’s legislation, he fears an ideological debate over the energy grid’s future in Congress could lead to inaction. “The right says PREPA has to be privatized, and that’s the solution for everything; the left says it must remain a public corporation and is opposed to privatization,” he said. “In the middle of that debate lies the fate of the Puerto Rican people."
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) will co-sponsor Sanders’s bill, and a handful of other Democratic senators are considering doing so as well. It has also been endorsed by 73 liberal and labor organizations, including MoveOn.org, the Sierra Club, and the Service Employees International Union.
“I was glad to work closely with Senator Sanders on this far-reaching bill so that we can aid our fellow U.S. citizens and help them along a path to full recovery," Warren told The Washington Post.
Correction: This story incorrectly stated the number of Puerto Rico's residents. It has now been corrected.
 

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Esto seria el resultado de la relacion de Puerto Rico con el gobierno federal. Algo asi como la ley del matrimonio igualitario. Todos sabemos que eso nunca hubiera llegado si no fuera por el gobierno federal.

Dudo muchisimo que el congreso estaba pensando en Puerto Rico al legislar esta ley. Por mi, bienvenido sea, es una practica cruel y bochornosa. Esto NO tiene lugar en un pais civilizado.
Entonces que hacemos con los 26,000 que dependen en su mayoría de esto? Personas que en su mayoría son de poca escolaridad, a dónde los mandamos a trabajar? Que trabajos hay en PR?

Esto solo empeoraría aún mas la caída económica y provocaría más exodo aún. Por cierto, te recuerdo que en Louisiana las peleas de gallo se prohibieron hace pocos años.
 

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Remote Area Medical deploys medical team to offer free care to PR

Written by Contributor // December 4, 2017 // Hurricane María


RAM to operate five mobile medical clinics Dec. 3-21.

Remote Area Medical-RAM, the largest nongovernmental organization that operates mobile medical clinics delivering free dental, vision, and medical services to underserved and uninsured individuals, will be in Puerto Rico Dec. 3-21 to offer free services. No ID is required.
RAM officials have been providing disaster relief aid in Puerto Rico since October and have now scheduled five mobile medical clinics to help those “who are suffering and in need of care.”
The clinics are scheduled to take place in San Germán (Dec. 3-5), Añasco (Dec. 7-9), San Sebastián (Dec. 11-13), Moca (Dec. 15-17), and Aguada (Dec. 19-21).
“Puerto Rico was already struggling from a long-standing economic recession before Hurricane María struck,” said Remote Area Medical Founder and President, Stan Brock.
“Now the territory faces an uncertain future as the entire electrical grid and most water purifying systems were destroyed,” said Brock.
“RAM teams are going to do everything they can to help out our American neighbors who are experiencing these hard times, both now and in the years to come,” he added.
RAM’s five mobile medical clinics are scheduled to take place in public coliseums and arenas in Puerto Rico and will offer a free health services including dental cleanings, fillings, extractions, dental x-rays, eye exams, eyeglass prescriptions, free eyeglasses, women’s health exams, and general medical exams, all of which will be provided by RAM’s corps of humanitarian volunteers.
RAM is still searching for additional licensed dental, vision, medical professionals to volunteer their time in Puerto Rico. More information about volunteering can be found at www.ramusa.org/volunteer.
Additionally, RAM will have a veterinary component to its mobile medical clinics in Puerto Rico, working with Veterinarians for Puerto Rico, providing them space at the clinics to assess the veterinary needs of the patients.
Veterinarians for Puerto Rico will attend RAM clinics and consult with patients about their pet’s needs, to then be able to provide treatment to both small and large animals, including vaccinations and providing medications for illnesses.
Remote Area Medical also plans to transport and distribute over 50,000 pounds of additional disaster relief supplies that they have collected since Hurricane María struck Puerto Rico in late September.
These supplies include diapers, hygiene products, bottled water, cleaning supplies, tools, animal food, and 20,000 ready-to-eat meals that were donated by Cigna of Chattanooga.
RAM teams have traveled to Puerto Rico two times since Hurricane María made landfall in order to assess conditions on the island and determine the best course of action.
In early October, RAM partnered with FedEx to fly 63,000 pounds of donated disaster relief supplies to the island. Once the supplies arrived at Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, they were distributed by RAM volunteers to people in need.
After shipping thousands of pounds of clinic equipment from Tennessee to Puerto Rico last week, RAM crews are now in collaboration with several local Puerto Rican authorities and community groups to ensure the last phases of clinic planning are a success.
 

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New Jersey boy collects hundreds of toys for children in Puerto Rico

Posted 6:08 PM, December 4, 2017, by Christie Duffy, Updated at 10:22AM, December 5, 2017

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — Jayden Perez, 8, hysterically cried when he opened a gift from his parents. Inside an envelope hidden in the couch was a pair of VIP tickets to a New York Giants game. Perez is a diehard fan.
“I started crying,” he said. “Because I never went to a Giants game.”
His mom got the tickets as a gift from her boss.
This grateful third-grader is now paying it forward. He and his mother, Ana Rosado, have organized a toy drive to benefit children devastated by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
“I’m teaching him, you know, from a younger age, that he should lend a helping hand,” Rosado said.
There are now almost 900 toys piled high in boxes in their basement. Rosado said two women who are friends of the family will hand deliver all the gifts to children in areas hardest hit by the storm. They plan to fly down in time for Three Kings Day, which is apart of the celebration of Christmas and is observed on Jan. 6.
“To help the people who need to make a kid, a happy boy, happy girl, happy children,” said Hector Pena, a total stranger who stopped by tonight to donate several bags of gifts.
The family will be accepting donations until Dec. 15.
For more information on how to donate, you can call 201-913-6543 or contribute money for more toys here.
 

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Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) attends a news conference to discuss 'a comprehensive plan to address the immediate humanitarian needs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and ensure that the islands are able to rebuild in a way that empowers them to thrive on November 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Web Only / Features » December 5, 2017

Why the Sanders-Warren Plan for Puerto Rico Is a Model for Climate Legislation

To repair after disasters—and prevent future ones—we can’t be afraid to spend public money on things people need.
BY Kate Aronoff
Building in more democratic control of the Puerto Rican economy could also be a way to head off corporate interests that tend to swoop in post-disaster.

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren last week unveiled a bill proposing the creation of a $146 billion “Marshall Plan” to recover and repair the storm-ravaged economies in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—by relieving the territories’ overwhelming debt and investing heavily in low-carbon, storm-resilient economic development.
As Republicans all but abandon the guise of deficit hawkishness with their trillion-dollar-plus tax plan, such ambitious spending proposals could be a model not just for disaster response, but for Democratic policymaking going forward. There are few paths to dealing adequately with climate change that won’t involve large-scale public investment. In that, Sanders and Warren’s “Marshall Plan” could model a way that U.S. policy can help pick up the pieces after climate-fueled storms—and help stop Hurricane Maria-style heavy weather from becoming more likely.
“Many are struggling to get clean drinking water, and more than 100,000 people have left Puerto Rico alone,” Sanders said in a press conference with several of the bill’s co-sponsors last Tuesday morning. “This is not acceptable, and we are here today to tell the people of Puerto Rico and tell the people of the Virgin Islands that they are not forgotten, they are not alone, and that we intend to do everything possible to rebuild those beautiful islands.”
More than two months on from Hurricane Maria, up to 60 percent of residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands remain without electricity and several basic services, according to a late November report from the Department of Energy. Large swathes of Puerto Rico remain without power as well.
The plans laid out in the bill are wide-ranging. It stipulates that $51 billion would be devoted to economic development on the island, and $27 billion would go toward rebuilding downed, damaged and neglected infrastructure—including the island’s long-beleaguered electric utility. An additional $62 billion would go to repaying Puerto Rico’s at least $74 billion in municipal debt. Specific provisions cover everything from grants for local agriculture to parity for Medicaid and Medicare payments to additional funds for the Department of Veterans Affairs to financing for a rapid scale-up of the island’s renewable energy capacity. The plan also hands control of restoration programs over to Puerto Ricans, stating that “the people of Puerto Rico and their elected representatives should determine the long-term future of the island.”
Building in more democratic control of the Puerto Rican economy could also be a way to head off corporate interests that tend to swoop in post-disaster. “We’ve all read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine,” said Sanders’ climate and energy advisor Katie Thomas, who worked extensively on the bill. “[Sanders] said we need to do everything we can to prevent the Shock Doctrine-ization of this situation. He wanted information on what had happened after Katrina, when so much of the public infrastructure was either privatized or eliminated. We wanted to be clear that we don’t want anything like that to happen in the future in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.”
According to Thomas, the bill emerged in part from the Senator’s October trip to the island and a series of “really productive roundtable conversations with dozens of labor leaders, mayors and leaders wanting to rebuild Puerto Rico back stronger than it was before.” While the bill initially came about as a way to deal with the island’s electricity grid—virtually leveled during Maria and in dire disrepair before that—that visit and subsequent talks with people on the island pushed them to consider a broader strategy, Thomas told In These Times.
Even before Maria hit, the U.S.-appointed fiscal control board in Puerto Rico—the body now overseeing the island’s finances—had its eye on privatizing the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island’s monopoly electric utility. “The junta,” as the control board is known colloquially on the island, is charged with restructuring Puerto Rico’s debt. The bill that created the junta, PROMESA, was intended to act as a mediator between creditors and the Puerto Rican government. While it’s kept the vulture funds that hold Puerto Rico’s debt at bay from demanding total repayment, that protection has come at the expense of deep cuts to the island’s public services and a push to sell public entities off to private bidders. PREPA was at the top of the control board’s privatization wish list before Maria. After the storm hit, the board took several more steps in that direction.
Sanders’ bill would bar the privatization of any public entity receiving funds from the U.S. government, effectively making it impossible to privatize PREPA for the foreseeable future.
Thomas also explained that one of the bill’s main priorities is not having U.S. officials decide what recovery looks like in either of the territories aided by the bill or public entities like PREPA. “It’s really important to us that the federal government is not making decisions for the people of Puerto Rico,” she said by phone. “We didn’t think it was appropriate for us to say what the future of PREPA should be, because we don’t think that’s an appropriate role for the federal government.”
Instead, the bill would entrust the Puerto Rico Energy Commission—the regulatory body that oversees PREPA, created in 2014—with overseeing plans for power restoration, with its counterpart performing the same function in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Rather than restoring PREPA to its status pre-storm, the bill would further prioritize both getting power online as quickly as possible and transitioning rapidly over to renewable fuels, which are both less expensive and more storm resilient for the import-dependent island. While an outage at a fossil fueled central station generator can leave thousands of people without electricity, panels can often remain online and provide power amidst grid failures.
For David Ortiz, the Latino climate action network director for El Puente, expanding renewable energy goes hand-in-hand with expanding economic opportunities in Puerto Rico, where he lives. Ortiz, who consulted with Sanders’s office on the bill in the lead-up to its release, told In These Times, “Economically we’ve really been hit, almost destroyed.
“What we need to do is be able to think of multiple ways of generating renewable energy so that folks have access to it,” Ortiz continued, “be it through small community grids or through rooftop solar. But we also need to prepare our workers for that shift, and continue to have employment and support for them. What we don’t want is for other companies from outside to come into the island, because we’ll continue to have more money go outside of the island.”
He described going recently to a usually-busy part of Old San Juan with his wife and family, and finding the normally packed parking lot they use filled with just a few cars, and several stores in the area’s main business district shuttered. “You can’t help but to worry about the future of Puerto Rico’s economy,” he told me. Ortiz sees the bill as a “really holistic approach to dealing with the crisis.”
There’s nothing particularly radical about the idea of spending public funds on the kinds of things that get economies back on their feet, from job creation to massive infrastructure investment. Republicans and even Democrats tend to swat down ambitious spending proposals as wasteful. The faint silver lining of the GOP’s success with the tax bill is that they can’t claim with any authority to care much at all about the size of a federal deficit they just pledged to increase by as much as $2 trillion over the next 10 years.
Though several details of the initiative would be left up to officials in Puerto Rico, the new Marshall Plan’s structure lays out an attractive model for ambitious climate policy on the mainland—that is, democratic climate action and disaster response that talks more about what it will do for workers and the economy than for the planet. If we have the money for tax cuts for corporations and the ultra-wealthy, then we have the money to make the kinds of pro-worker economic transformations the climate crisis demands. With Sanders and Warren’s bill, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands could show the way forward to a Democratic Party that isn’t afraid to spend money on the things we need.
 

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Llega a la isla delegación de policías de Orlando para reforzar la seguridad

Por Maribel Hernández Pérez 12/05/2017 |10:24 a.m.


El grupo trajo una bandera firmada por el alcalde Buddy Dyer, empleados municipales y el grupo de policías como una muestra de su solidaridad y compromiso en ayudar a Puerto Rico. (Archivo)
Permanecerán hasta el 15 de diciembre trabajando turnos de 12 horas.​
Con el propósito de reforzar la seguridad en Puerto Rico, un grupo de oficiales del Departamento de la Policía de Orlando viajó ayer a la isla conmovidos por la devastación dejada a su paso por el huracán María.
La delegación, que está encabezada por uno de los subjefes de la Policía, Orlando Rolón, quien es un puertorriqueño natural de Bayamón radicado en centro de la Florida desde que tenía 11 años, quien manifestó su deseo de colaborar con el Negociado de la Policía.
“Son doce agentes. Hay personas que nacieron en Puerto Rico como yo, o se criaron o trabajaron en Puerto Rico y otros que no tienen ninguna conexión. Queríamos tener diversidad entre los miembros del departamento. Es algo muy especial para nosotros rendir nuestra labor de esta manera en el proceso de ayudar a Puerto Rico a levantarse”, comentó Rolón.
El funcionario, en entrevista con Primera Hora, reveló que fueron asignados al área policíaca de Carolina para llevar a cabo labores de patrullaje junto a los agentes estatales en las zonas norte y sur y en el municipio de Trujillo Alto, donde ya comenzaron a ver comunidades que todavía tienen el tendido eléctrico en el piso.
Su horario de trabajo es de 12 horas, es decir, de 6:00 a.m. a 6:00 p.m. Esta es la primera ocasión que el grupo viaja a Puerto Rico para ofrecer sus servicios.
Rolón no está ajeno a los problemas que confrontan los policías estatales al no tener tiempo para poder agotar los excesos de los días acumulados de sus licencias de vacaciones y enfermedad debido a la emergencia ocasionado por el paso de los fenómenos atmosféricos lo que ha provocado un aumento en las cifras de ausentismo.
“Nosotros comprendemos. Queríamos poder estar aquí y tomar la posición de un policía que no esté presente para ayudarlo mientras atiende las necesidades de ellos y de sus familias. Eso nos alegra mucho”, sostuvo el oficial.
Al mismo tiempo lamentó que al sistema de seguridad de la isla se haya visto afectado ya que en su caso el alcalde y sus comisionados dan prioridad con recursos y presupuesto a los departamentos de la Policía y del Cuerpo de Bomberos.
“Nos da pena cuando escuchamos las historias de cómo ha sido afectado el sistema de seguridad en Puerto Rico”, expresó Rolón.
El grupo regresa el 15 de diciembre a Orlando, pero estarían evaluando la posibilidad de regresar en enero del 2018 de acuerdo con la necesidad de sus servicios.
Su delegación no trajo a la isla vehículos, como agentes de otras jurisdicciones lo han hecho por las complicaciones que conlleva su transporte.
Próximamente, se harán gestiones con la Fortaleza para entregarle al gobernador Ricardo Rosselló Nevares una bandera firmada por el alcalde de la ciudad de Orlando, Buddy Dyer, empleados municipales y el grupo de policías como una muestra de su solidaridad y compromiso en ayudar a Puerto Rico.
El comisionado de uno de los distritos de Orlando, el puertorriqueño y expolicía Antonio Ortiz, también está haciendo gestiones para viajar a la isla, añadió Rolón.
 
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