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Big companies help Puerto Rico recover after Hurricane Maria

Posted at 9:07 PM, Nov 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 23:47:22-05

Although the official end of the 2018 hurricane season is about to come to a close, Puerto Rico is finally just getting back on its feet. Hurricane Maria is considered the island's worst natural disaster in recorded history after hitting the island more than a year ago. Six months later, much of the U.S. territory was still without access to electricity.

Filmmaker, Hannah Sider, documented the area six months after Maria made landfall. She spoke with several Puerto Ricans, including a caretaker who remembered, "When the hurricane arrived, I thought it was the end of the world because it was something very disastrous and we lost everything."

To start the recovery process, Michelle Rodriguez, Executive Director of Ninos de Nueva Esperanza, says, "We interviewed almost 400 families around the community to know where their needs were, so we could meet them. And, that's when we met the people of Citizen."

Citizen Watch uses the power of light with their ecodrive technology, which aligned with Puerto Rico's need for energy. The watchmaker partnered with Good360 and MPOWERD to co-brand their solar powered lights, which were distributed to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, south Florida, and most recently, the panhandle of Florida.

Shari Rudolph, Chief Marketing Officer at Good360, says, "Our partnership with Citizen has been extremely important in Good360's disaster recovery work over the past year. The availability of Luci EMRG relief lights has been a big help in disaster-impacted areas such as Puerto Rico, South Florida and the US Virgin Islands. In the wake of a major disaster like a hurricane, many families and businesses find themselves without power, sometimes for an extended period of time. These lights help address at least one basic need for impacted individuals and families and can make all the difference in the world."

John Salzinger, co founder of MPOWERD, says the New York based company's business model came about after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. He says three million people in 90 countries are without power. He says, "For us, it's important to participate in recovery. And, as you can tell, the spirit of the island, the people here, it's very strong. It's a necessity for people to come back from such a horrible travesty." Salzinger says MPOWERD partners with other big companies, knowing that consumers want businesses to do good.

MPOWERD's Luci EMRG relief lights are solar powered. It takes about seven hours to charge. A light can last up to 50 hours on one charge and cost as little as 10 dollars.

One hurricane survivor on Sider's documentary said, "The lights helped us a lot, because we were without power for a long time. We were able to study, do homework."

Rodriguez says, "What we learned through the experience of Maria, is that we have to plan ahead, because of the love we have for our community, our children, and the hopes for them."

Through Citizen's "Get a Light, Give a Light" program, a donation of a Luci EMRG solar-powered light will be given upon every Citizen watch purchase.