Shining a light on disaster management in Puerto Rico

Group of professors standing around opened solar briefcase.

Solar installation at Casa Universidad community center in Cayey. Professor Daniel B. Hess (third from left) was part of a SUNY delegation that traveled to Puerto Rico in July to assist with ongoing rebuilding efforts there. Photo courtesy of SUNY

By Brenna Zanghi

Published September 24, 2018

Urban planning professor Daniel B. Hess was among a delegation of SUNY professors and officials that visited Puerto Rico in July to assist with ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts after last year’s Hurricane Maria.

The 15-member delegation, which included SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson, was mobilized through Governor Cuomo’s “NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding” initiative.

Hess was part of the delegation team that helped install mobile ‘solar suitcases’ in several community centers as a reliable power source for medical lighting, mobile communication, and essential medical devices during disasters. The work is part of New York State’s “Sustainable Solar Project” led by Alfred State College and We Care/We Share Solar (WCS/WSS), which developed the Solar Suitcase systems.

“It was inspiring to hear community center staff and volunteers tell us just how useful the emergency solar power would be in the event of power outages following a hurricane” says Hess about the experience.

Hess and the delegation also assisted with the All Hands and Hearts home rebuilding project.

And, paving the way for future collaboration, Chancellor Johnson signed a system-level Memorandum of Understanding between SUNY and the University of Puerto Rico central administration in support of partnerships in research, disaster management, and sustainable energy solutions. The goal is to create enriching research and learning experiences for students at both institutions.

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