More than half of Puerto Rico’s population remains without access to clean drinking water after Hurricane Maria left the island in devastation. As we see the turmoil unfold from the comfort of our homes, we all wonder ways to help after a natural disaster. Take a cue from MSR, which is making a real difference where it’s needed most.
The Seattle-based company is working diligently to get the MSR SE200 Community Chlorine Maker to Puerto Rico and Mexico. With just water, salt, and the push of one button, in five minutes, there is enough chlorine to clean water for 200 community members. The chlorine maker is light, portable, and easy to ship, which is essential in the case of Puerto Rico.
“When you look at a disaster like what hit Texas, you can just truck items in. It’s much more difficult when items need to be shipped,” explains Patrick Diller, head of MSR Global Health. Diller points out how bottled water is not only rough to ship, but it’s only a temporary solution to a long-term problem.
The filters were originally created with the outdoor customer in mind, but MSR recognizes their unique product can truly save lives. “The challenge when a large natural disaster strikes is that you’ll find contaminants and dangerous viruses in the water that you might not find in the backcountry, and traditional backcountry filters can’t handle it,” Diller says.
Take a closer look at MSR's chlorine maker
Filters are available to hurricane victims at steep discounts for all those impacted, and thanks to donations from MSR customers, some are at no cost.
“Recently, we’ve been getting calls and social comments from customers asking what they can do,” Diller says. MSR set up a GoFundMe page, and they beat the original $2,500 goal within 24 hours. (It’s currently at $2,785 as we publish this article.)
But Diller hopes it doesn’t stop there. “The more donations we get, the more devices get to Puerto Rico.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the outdoor community step up to help in the wake of a natural disaster. A tiny, home-based bag maker in Colorado is donating tote bags to Florida outdoor retailers impacted by Hurricane Irma after reading a SNEWS article on how the storm impacted them.
We also reported on a slew of brands sending equipment and money to Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Last week, MSR shipped 10 devices to a shelter for women and children in Puerto Rico. "It's heart-breaking to know that it takes 24 to 48 hours to get the makers into the field," Diller says.
That's a long time to be thirsty. But fortunately, MSR has already shipped between 600 and 700 units in the past two weeks.