Barely two weeks after the hurricane ‘Irma’ hit the Caribbean Islands in September 2017, the next disaster ravaged Puerto Rico. The category 4, 50-mile-wide hurricane ‘Maria’ took a direct landfall on 20 September 2017 causing huge destruction, taking lives, injuring people, ripping houses apart, taking off roofs, flooding the streets, and incapacitating infrastructure. Although the tornado was smaller than the previous one, it was the strongest in 80 years that directly hit the island.Apart from the overall devastation, the worst damage was caused by the electricity that was down and the water sources that were destroyed and cause a scarcity of clean water in the villages. This water shortage drove villagers to find alternative water sources – some of which are contaminated, dirty, and unsafe for human consumption.Some walked long distances to collect water in rivers, streams, from pipes in the ground, and elsewhere to carry water buckets home to their families, children and the elderly. Even where tap water was still available, there was a huge risk that it was tainted with raw sewage.
Something had to be done fast. Operation Blessing International, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and their local associates, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Hispanic Federation got together to bring Operation Agua to life.Operation Agua’s objective is to bring 100,000 individual water filtration systems and 50 large-capacity safe water devices to the victims of natural disasters. With the rising threat of a massive outbreak of waterborne diseases, Operation Agua had to be orchestrated and implemented with speed and efficiency.Operation Blessing International, one of the largest NGO in the United States helping in 39 countries around the world to alleviate human need and suffering, and the Operation Agua partners quickly established collaborations with manufacturers, organizations experienced in providing clean water across the globe, logistics companies, and regional and school-based infrastructure organizations.The electricity-free, easy-to-assemble and operate Clarity Water Filters were a perfect fit for Operation Agua. Young and old, school children, mothers, caregivers, basically everyone can benefit from the filters that are easily set-up in homes, schools, and community centers. The filtered water is 99% bacteria and protozoa free and provides up to 40 liters of safe drinking water per day.While the situation is still terrible, the community rebuilds their lives and homes little by little and the water filters take the worry of unsafe drinking water away from them.
Source: some photos are courtesy of Operation Blessing.