Luis Edgardo Cotto is going to Puerto Rico to help in relief efforts and bringing items to assist with longterm necessities such as clean water and electricity. Cotto, the executive director of Egleston Square Main Street, has opened up its office at the Egleston Square YMCA to receive donations. He has also created an online fundraising page.
"My plan is to go to Puerto Rico to personally deliver (and install) solar lanterns, water filtration systems and 50w solar kits in the town of Cidra, Barrio of Montellano, Sector of La Bloquera," said Cotto to Jamaica Plain News. A sector is to Cidra what Egleston Square is to Boston -- a neighborhood. There are 50 families who live in Cidra, and Cotto's parents' families live in Montellano.
"Presently my mom, dad and two sisters are there. We haven't spoken to my parents, but my sisters were able to get to a highway and find cell reception to call us. Now they can't risk that because gas is scarce and the distance to good cell reception is far," said Cotto. "But we've been able to communicate when they get a random roaming signal. Her reports are that people are in good spirit and are just helping each other to make the best out of a horrible situation."
Cotto started a gofundme.com page on September 27th to initially raise $5,000 and that goal was quickly met as more than 100 people donated. The goal is now $10,000. Fundraising is solely to purchase lanterns, water filtration systems and solar starter kits. A solar lamp production company is providing a great discount, so every little donation helps, said Cotto. Please consider donating to the page by clicking here.
Cotto will travel alone to Puerto Rico on October 13th, be picked up by a friend, who will bring him to Cidra. Cotto plans to bring as many supplies as he can fit into three duffle bags than may weigh up to 50 pounds each.
"Mountain towns like Cidra are at risk of being amongst the last to receive aid. I'm also concerned of the constant calls for water and batteries without conscious thought of the waste that creates when there is plenty of solar potential. Flooding has not been a major issue in Cidra, but small streams and rivers are plenty. The fear of dead animals contaminating those water options means that they're only used to bathe and clean," said Cotto.
Cotto is also accepting item donations at the Egleston Square Main Street office at the Egleston Square YMCA (3134 Washington St.) that will go towards the Boston Mothers Care Donation Drive. Boston Mothers Care is a volunteer group created after the January 2010 earthquake to respond to the needs of families in remote areas in Haiti. He added Boston Mothers Care personnel will similarly bring, in some cases personally, donations to remote areas in Puerto Rico. Their drive will last through the month of October.