Enumclaw’s Tyler Gachen and Ryan Wood are helping Puerto Ricans get access to fresh water by installing large, stream-fed filtration systems in communities that were hit hard by hurricane Maria. Photo credit Sara Armas

Enumclaw locals give aid in Puerto Rico

More than a month after being leveled by hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still trying to set up basic services for its US residents. But every day, federal aid workers and volunteers from all over world are working every day toward helping the island recover, including Enumclaw locals Tyler Gachen and Ryan Wood.

More than a month after being leveled by hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still trying to set up basic services for its US residents.

According to the Puerto Rican government, 23 percent of the island still doesn’t have access to running water, and 78 percent of the island is still without power as of Oct. 27.

But every day, federal aid workers and volunteers from all over world are working every day toward helping the island recover, including Enumclaw locals Tyler Gachen and Ryan Wood.

Gachen and Wood are part of a group of six people with We Unite Organizations, a Boston-based non-profit that founded the Human Rights Festival.

The group flew over to Puerto Rico on Oct. 17, and plans to arrive back in the states on Nov. 7.

The aid coordinator on the island is Paul Waggonner, a Floridian who a few years ago met Wood in Eastern Washington while they were in EMT school.

When We Unite contacted Waggonner to see if he was interested in helping out in Puerto Rico, he gave Wood — a ski patroller at Crystal Mountain — a call, who in turned got in touch with Gachen, a volunteer firefighter with the Enumclaw Fire Department.

“I figured this is a good way to get involved and give back,” Gachen said.

The We Unite group has worked on several projects during their three weeks down there, said founder Lauren Piraino, including working with the Black Cross to unload and distribute thousands of pounds of relief supplies, including food, water, hygiene products and even generators.

But the biggest impact the group seems to be making, Piraino said, was rigging together large water-filtration systems that can help filter water for whole communities, not just individuals or families.

She said Waggonner, who “is like an on-site inventor,” managed to cobble together a stream-fed water filtration system that could filter up to 1,500 gallons of water, and the group has set up these systems in Las Marias, Auguadilla and San Sebastian.

Gachen said they’re also continuing to help install filters for individuals and small groups of people, like an orphanage that houses 19 young boys.

We Unite put together a GoFundMe page for the group, with the money going toward buying the volunteers food, gas and more filters, Piraino said.

None of the money goes to sheltering the volunteers.

“They’re really roughing it,” she said, adding they sleep outside, on porches or in the homes of the people they help.

The GoFundMe can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/help-out-our-aid-team-in-pr.

More in News

Panthers jazzed for new Performing Arts Center

Sports fans should also be excited for new home-side covered seating at the school stadium.

Ellenson park likely site for new Enumclaw dog park

City Parks Director Michelle Larson estimates a mid- to late-summer opening.

Bonney Lake team is the ‘People’s Choice’ at scholarship dinner

The Panthers advanced culinary team turned eyes and attracted taste buds with their bacon-themed three course meal at the last Bite of the Apprentice.

City of Enumclaw seeking downtown developer

A new three-story building may be built on the corner of Cole and Railroad.

Paintings by sumi-e artist coming to gallery

Darlene Dihel’s ink paintings will be on display until May 1.

The Bonney Lake Police Department met up and thanked the Lake Tapps Hornets lacrosse team for taking a knee when a police procession passed their practice field in March. Photo by Ray Still
Officers thank kids who knelt during procession

The Lake Tapps Hornets lacrosse team took a knee to out of respect for Officer James Larson.

Feds set slight increase in national park fees

Annual passes, vehicle entrance fees and “per person” fees are climbing by $5 this summer.

King County Council passes renter protections bill

The legislation is intended to prevent landlords from discriminating based on the source of a prospective tenant’s income.

Police chief, student council members sworn in

Sophia DeMarco and Ian Tobius are the newest members of the Enumclaw City Council.

Most Read