Puerto Rico Plumbers Step Up to Help Communities Post Hurricane

Puerto Rico contractors go beyond their plumbing expertise to help out with relief efforts following Hurricane Maria
Puerto Rico Plumbers Step Up to Help Communities Post Hurricane
Jamie Sanchez of Reliable Plumbing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a van full of food and water for people in need following Hurricane Maria.

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Jamie Sanchez and Alejandro Santiago, co-owners of Reliable Plumbing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, have had plenty of plumbing work in the five weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall. But it goes beyond that.

“It’s not just plumbing,” Santiago says. “It’s removing trees and debris from the streets, helping to coordinate food deliveries, and other efforts. We have a lot of aid agencies here and we need people to help out.”

“We started a campaign to get food and bottled water for communities in the center of the island,” says Sanchez. “The people who need the most help are those without houses, many blown away by the winds, and those in shelters or living in tents outside their homes. We partnered with Libreria Educativa, which supplies books to 50 percent of the schools on the island, to deliver the supplies.”

Rod Rodder Service Inc., a large plumbing firm with offices in San Juan and Ponce, was fortunate to maintain its link with the potable water infrastructure, so one of its first disaster relief efforts was providing water to residents.

“The day after the hurricane, I took one of our cistern trucks that could hold 600 gallons to bring water to my neighborhood in San Juan,” says Ben Quintana Jr., general manager of Rod Rodder. “There was huge need and people were begging for water. It’s something you only saw in movies and now it was a reality for us. I like to treat people the same way I would like them to treat me.”

Quintana and his company are also collecting and donating food and water to neighbors, and people in the hard-hit countryside. For those who can afford it, donations of $40 are being sought to provide funds for the Centro Medico hospital in San Juan.

“We also did this for Irma, which was not as bad as Maria,” says Quintana. “It was a double-hit with both hurricanes.”

Rod Rodder has also lent some of its dumpsters to the community to help remove debris and clean up the streets.

“The mayor of San Juan does not have the manpower to remove everything and has asked for people to do what they can,” Quintana says. “We’re doing whatever we can to help out.”

David Burgos, co-owner of Planet Plumbing and Sewer Cleaning in San Juan, says he has experienced many hurricanes, but Hurricane Maria was unique.

“It shattered windows, damaged roofs, and moved cars. This was something we never experienced before,” Burgos says. “My home is made of concrete, so it was not damaged, but my mom lost part of her roof and a friend lost almost everything in his house because the roof was blown away.”

Burgos says he helped deliver food and water to family and friends after the storm, and has also been doing a lot of disaster relief work through his church.

“I was providing water and food to them and asking them what they needed — we bought a lot of food to help out,” he says. “And the members of our church are doing everything we can. On Saturdays we go house to house to give support.

“We’ll get past this,” he adds. “The spirit of the people is good. People who don’t know you say ‘hello’ and they’re helping out their neighbors. A lot of policemen are giving people lifts, cold water, and food. On my street, we’re sharing with our neighbors. If we’re doing a large meal, we will share it and others are doing the same.”

Burgos says he appreciates the donations that people are making to hurricane relief organizations and the attention that the media is giving to the situation in Puerto Rico.

“There are a lot of people thinking about us, which is what really matters,” he says.

To make donations for the relief efforts, all the plumbers suggest visiting UnitedForPuertoRico.com.

And read more about the heavy plumbing workload the companies have had here.


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