Public attention may fade, but the effects of a natural disaster can linger long after camera crews have left. The lasting consequences of Hurricane Maria on the island of Puerto Rico serve as a fitting example of this phenomenon. After the hurricane severely compromised their power grid, the island’s infrastructure fell apart, and entire towns went without electricity for almost a year.
In the wake of the destruction, families had to depend on backup generators, navigating a dangerous landscape of leaning power poles, fallen trees and other debris. Fortunately, humanitarian engineering has helped manage the energy needs of affected areas in the aftermath of many natural disasters.
The executive director and co-founder of Empowered by Light, Moira Hanes, sees renewable energy as the solution. Her nonprofit partnered with the Las Vegas Fire Department to install solar hubs at firehouses across Puerto Rico. The solar and construction companies Sunrun and Aireko also participated.