Today 18,000 solar panel lamps were distributed to families in fourteen municipalities in Puerto Rico still struggling with power outages. The municipalities in attendance were: Barranquitas, Bayamón, Comerio, Dorado, Las Marias, Loíza, Morovis, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Ponce, Utuado, Villalba, Vega Alta, Vega Baja. HITN, the leading Spanish-language network that offers educational and entertainment content to more than 44 million households across the nation, coordinated this distribution of solar lamps, which were provided by Hispanic Federation, the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization, with a focus to support Hispanic families and strengthen non-profits through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement and economic empowerment.
Last year’s devastating hurricane season left Puerto Rico in complete darkness due to sweeping power outages that lasted months before authorities restored electricity on the island. This year’s hurricane season is again proving to be a challenge. During the early weeks of April, a blackout swept the island after a single tree fell on a power line in the southeastern town of Cayey and knocked out power for 840,000 people across Puerto Rico. And a week later, an excavator hit a transmission line, which again severed power – this time for 1.4 million people. Although authorities are working hard to prevent any further power outages, people living in Puerto Rico are expressing concerns over the possibility of additional blackouts.
“Since Hurricane Maria struck last year, Puerto Rico has struggled with blackouts. And if the start of this year’s hurricane season is any indication of what to expect, the people on the island are going to need a backup plan if there is an emergency such as more power outages. Addressing this issue is one of the critical steps in Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts and using solar-powered lamps as an alternative source of light is a smart and simple solution,” explained Michael D. Nieves, President and CEO of HITN who has also engaged in a variety of other hurricane relief efforts such as purchasing and installing water filters in schools, daycare centers, and cancer treatment centers located in Vieques.
Hispanic Federation President José Calderón, stated, “Hispanic Federation has invested $27 million dollars through more than 70 community organizations across the island that have stepped up to lead the charge and build a more resilient and sustainable Puerto Rico. Together with our local partners, we have been distributing solar lamps to vulnerable communities and we are grateful to be working with HITN to reach thousands of more families today.”
WIPR President, Rafael Batista Cruz, expressed, “We really appreciate HITN and Hispanic Federation initiative. WIPR is an educational tool for Puerto Rico in any circumstances. For that reason, we are pleased that WIPR serves as distribution center for these solar lamps. We are convinced that they will be very useful for the people in our communities and will be part of their emergency kits.”
After Hurricane Maria, Hispanic Federation was among the first organizations to provide emergency assistance including the distribution of over 7 million pounds of food, water, and other critical supplies in all 78 municipalities. Thus far, Hispanic Federation has committed $27 million dollars to over 70 local groups leading initiatives in agriculture, renewable energy, housing, environment, small business and workforce development, health, education and the arts. Hispanic Federation has distributed over 50 thousand solar lamps and intends to distribute 60 thousand more.
HITN managed the distribution efforts of these 18 thousand lamps by coordinating with representatives from each of fourteen municipalities to collect their allotment of 1500 lamps at the studios of WIPR, Puerto Rico’s public broadcasting corporation. The light and sleek design of the solar lamps boost a lithium polymer battery for 8-12 hours of performance. And with its innovative open and close twist action, this solar lamp is compact enough for easy storage, while also serving as a handy tool in case of emergency such as a blackout.
HITN-TV is a leading Spanish-language media company that offers educational and cultural programming for the whole family. It reaches more than 44 million viewers in the US and Puerto Ricovia DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse TV, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast, Charter Spectrum, Frontier Mediacom, CenturyLink Prism and Cablevision. For more information, please visit www.hitn.tv.
ABOUT HISPANIC FEDERATION
The mission of the Hispanic Federation is to empower and advance the Hispanic community. The Hispanic Federation provides grants and services to a broad network of Latino non-profit agencies serving the most vulnerable members of the Hispanic community and advocates nationally with respect to the vital issues of education, health, immigration, economic empowerment, civic engagement and the environment. For more information, please visit www.hispanicfederation.org.