Man to install solar panels among team leaving for Puerto Rico
A team of 15 doctors and construction workers left the Columbia Regional Airport Saturday for a trip to Ponce, Puerto Rico. The team with Global First Responder, a local nonprofit, is headed to help with Hurricane Maria Relief.
Dan Shifley is taking his first trip with the organization. He owns Dogwood Solar in Columbia and will be helping to provide power for people on the island. Many have been living without power for months, and others are living on generators.
"There's still a lot of people without power, and it's going to be a long time before certain sections get power," Shifley said. "We're going down to help with the people without power, or to get them off of running on generator only, maybe get them a small micro-grid or something more sustainable, and maybe more reliable, so they don't have to rely on a fuel source,"
"They can rely on the power of the sun."
He and the other team members are leaving their families for a week and donating their time and talents to help. The doctors on the team are mental health professionals.
Shifley said he went on vacation to Puerto Rico in April, so seeing the devastation impacted him.
"We had just been there," he said. "Had a great time there. It's a beautiful place."
He said the moment a solar system works is always priceless. However, he thinks it will be even more rewarding to those who've been without power for so long.
"Just seeing some of the devastation and hearing the human struggle that is resultant of not having power for months at a time - it's life-altering and really difficult," he said.
"If we can help a little bit, that means a lot,."