HIALEAH, Fla. – Quontic Bank employees put on their T-shirts, left their air-conditioned office in Coral Gables and got to work at a warehouse after Hurricane Maria. They sent nearly 5,000 much-needed water bottles to Puerto Rico.
Ray Duran, the manager of the Coral Gables branch, said they sprinted into action when they learned that five weeks after the Category 4 storm, there were about a million people who still lacked access to clean water.
They delivered their donations to a public-private partnership that put together a hurricane relief center at 1415 W. 49 St. in Hialeah. Sen. Rene Garcia and Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo helped to spearhead the effort.
"As a community bank, we have an obligation to look out for our community and help where we can," Duran said in a statement.
The 40-foot shipping container with donations is expected to arrive in Puerto Rico early next week. Unidos Por Puerto Rico, an initiative by Beatriz Rossello, the first lady of Puerto Rico, will be distributing the donations. There are similar efforts going on in South Florida and in the nation as nearly 20 percent of the island remains without water since Sept. 20.
"This is a true testament of what community service is all about," Bovo said in a statement. "A community's true colors are seen during times of trouble."
Nearly 20 percent of the island also remains without power, tens of thousands have lost their jobs and Gov. Ricardo Rossello was criticizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for what he said was a lack of urgency.
Google and its employees offered $1 million in donations to organizations like the Red Cross and UNICEF. Alphabet donated stratospheric balloons to deliver internet service. Facebook pledged to donate $1.5 million to the World Food Program and Net Hope.
Sonnen, a German-based manufacturer of energy storage systems, and Tesla, an American automaker, are working on micro-grids and batteries that store solar power. Authorities in Puerto Rico are using their help to restore energy to hospitals.