It was more than four months ago that Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and its electricity has not yet been restored because the disaster played havoc with the infrastructure and left its people to fend for themselves. In today’s world, a life minus electricity is unthinkable. Without power, the elderly struggle in the heat and everyone is forced to finish his work before it is dark. CNN reports that a teenager has come on the scene as a good Samaritan. He is Gomez Colon, who is a ninth grader and lives in San Juan. Soon after the hurricane, he started a crowdfunding campaign to help out those in the worst hit areas.

He wanted to buy portable solar lamps and hand-operated washing machines for them.

Solar power is a solution

It is estimated that the lack of electricity has affected upwards of half a million residents of Puerto Rico. The disaster had uprooted electric poles and left the outdated infrastructure in shambles. The road and bridges were also badly damaged by Hurricane Maria. Soon after the hurricane, many residents moved out to the US mainland and those who stayed back are now suffering. The good Samaritan has already raised funds and started distributing the solar lamps. He has already distributed 1,400 of them to some 840 households and has another 1,600 that he plans to distribute soon. He does his work on weekends and procures the items directly from reputed manufacturers.

So far, he has procured around 300 hand-powered washing machines and more than 3,000 lamps. Some of these lamps have provisions for charging mobile phones.

The situation is grim

The government of Puerto Rico has revealed that power has been restored to about 80 percent of the island, while 96 percent has access to running water and almost 98 percent now has telecom services.

This paints a rosy picture, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicated that in view of the improvement, it would discontinue the supply of food and water to the island. However, it has added that it still holds adequate quantities of food and water for distribution if required.

In spite of the official statements, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority says that a large portion of residents continues to remain in the dark.

Under the circumstances, this scheme of free distribution of solar lamps by the good Samaritan has brought a ray of hope in the lives of Puerto Ricans who are still on the island.

Incidentally, Elon Musk had proposed that the island should replace its existing power generation setup with solar power. Vox had reported that after the disaster, a children’s hospital in San Juan was brought back online in October with solar panels and batteries manufactured by Tesla. Subsequently, its CEO, Elon Musk, discussed the matter with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló about restoring power to Puerto Rico with solar energy.