Bringing clean water to Puerto Rico with pro athlete Chuck Patterson

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Stand up paddlers making a difference!  We could NOT be more proud of the crew from WND&WVS, Villa Playa Maria and Chuck Patterson for their efforts in Puerto Rico this week.

Chuck Patterson Puerto Rico gopro group
Chuck Patterson bringing that big smile to the people of Puerto Rico

Villa Playa Maria:  Helping those who need it most

Chuck Patterson with fellow waterman Russ Scully, owner of Villa Playa Maria in Rincon and WND&WVS Surf Shop in Vermont, decided to take matters into their own hands.  Besieged by requests from family and friends how they could help the residents of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Russ’ wife Roxane set up a GoFundMe account where people could donate.

Russ & Roxane are only part-time members of the Rincon, PR water community through the Villa Playa Maria, but their hearts are there full-time.  They put that energy to work for them as they researched what would be the most beneficial, sustainable and impactful way they could use their GoFundMe monies to help the citizens of Rincon.

Chuck Patterson, a GoPro athlete who has spent time in Puerto Rico and fallen in love with its waves and lifestyle, got on board to offer his immediate help.  As he says, “It drove me crazy to be sitting here when I knew there were so many people in need of assistance.”

Chuck Patterson Puerto Rico hurricane relief
The carnage: homes destroyed, power lines down and no running water for months. That is the reality of over 3 million people on the island of Puerto Rico today. Photo by: Chuck Patterson

Sustainable solutions and bringing water back to PR

Together, after the WND&WVS fundraiser topped out at $35,000, the team – working with Waves for Water to bring water filters down to the island – hit upon the plan to purchase over 200 cisterns and bring them to the community of Rincon, PR.

Russ Scully found a way to have the cisterns shipped to Puerto Rico where he and Chuck met the shipment and trucked the cisterns into the Villa Playa Maria, a beautiful 10-bedroom oceanfront estate owned by the Scully’s, to store them.  Utilizing his Villa management team on the ground,  an assessment was made as to how to best distribute the cisterns.

Russ Scully Chuck Patterson WND&WVS Puerto Rico cistern
Cisterns are large containers that can hold hundreds of gallons of water. The Scully’s efforts brought 210 of these rain-capturing barrels to the town of Rincon. Photo by: Chuck Patterson

Lack of water, mudslides and no electricity months after Hurricane Maria

Russ and Chuck, spearheading the effort together with their Waves for Water filters, have now been down in Puerto Rico for 5 days loading the cisterns, taking them to key locations throughout the community, installing them and educating the new owners about their care and function.  This way, entire neighborhoods can share in the efforts of this tiny crew.

“Today we delivered several water cisterns along with water filters, water & food to many families who don’t have water or electricity in the back hills of Puerto Rico. Listening to the sad stories of reality that some of these families endure everyday with or without the hurricane, has been humbling to say the least. I’m thankful beyond words for this opportunity and leaving them happy & smiling means the world.” – Chuck Patterson

Chuck has been reporting in from PR all week.  This seasoned world traveler is stunned by the devastation and ruin left behind by Hurricanes Maria and Jose.  To date, less than 20% of the island has any electricity and running water is non-existent.  Many families have been displaced due to either storm damage on their homes or – a little known fact – post hurricane mud slides that continue to destroy efforts to rebuild.

Russ Scully Chuck Patterson WND&WVS Puerto Rico hurricane debris
In the aftermath of the Hurricane, mudslides continue to be a problem as landscapes have been stripped of their vegetation and dirt is loose. Families have had to flee in the weeks following Hurricane Maria when their homes became targets for sliding debris. Photo by: Chuck Patterson

Chuck Patterson bringing hope and that huge smile with him to PR

But, Chuck is positive.  His thoughts are optimistic.   He says,

“There’s nothing that touches the heart more then hearing the crazy stories of survival and bravery that so many endured during the hurricane, mudslides and flooding, all in a span of 24 hours. The one thing I’ve learned is that Puerto Rican’s are strong resilient survivors that come together as a family and can weather any storm with a smile.”

The work here is far from over.   BUT, with efforts like these from the hearts of people who care about this land and its surrounding waters, Puerto Rico will be rebuilt, one brick, one mortar, one cistern at a time.

To stay in touch with Chuck & Russ’ journey in PR, you can follow Chuck Patterson’s Instagram stories @ChuckPatterson.

Aloha & stay true, PR!

 

 

About the author

Evelyn O'Doherty is a standup paddle racer, surfer and yoga teacher from the East End of Long Island in New York. Her passion for watersports drew her to leave a teaching career to pursue her athletic endeavors as a sup instructor, racing coach, sup racer, and now, as online editor for Standup Journal. Evelyn lives in East Hampton NY in the Springs area where she has daily access to the water to train and teach. When the swell is working, you can find her in Montauk rattling around in her Ford Ranger surfboards hanging out the back headed for points East.

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