Electricity the focus of Puerto Rican Shelter at Home program
RINCON, PUERTO RICO - Rincon is a city on the western coast of Puerto Rico. It's a difficult area to get supplies into, that's why Deshawn Sargent and Michael Falcone set up their own distribution center there.
"Everything wasn't going the way it should have, so Mike and I started helping people," said Sargent Tuesday. "We had WiFi so people would come here and talk to their families. And they would come to us with their problems and we would help them fix them."
Before Hurricane Maria, their distribution center was a bar and they were the bartenders. Now they distribute food, clothes, and water. They've also been branching out.
"We've been teaching other towns to mirror us so they can help their community better," said Falcone.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards flew into Rincon on the second day of his trip to Puerto Rico Tuesday. Edwards is advising the Puerto Rican government as it sets up a relief program similar to Louisiana's Shelter at Home program. Most of the houses in Puerto Rico are concrete. So instead of new drywall, they need power.
"They will incorporate into their program solar panels, and for homes that can't have solar panels because of the way its constructed they will get a small generator," said Edwards.
According to officials, the average household in Puerto Rico spends 50% to 300% more for electricity while making significantly less income compared to people on the mainland. So the solar panels could greatly improve the average person's life.
Since Hurricane Maria, most have had to rely on inefficient generators for electricity because the island's outdated electrical infrastructure has yet to be repaired.
Edwards estimates Puerto Rico's version of Shelter at Home will help 75,000 households.