RCAP Secures USDA Disaster Relief Funding to Restore Small Communities

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP) has received $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Programs to provide training and technical assistance, onsite repairs, and utility management advice for rural water and wastewater utilities impacted by the 2017 hurricane season. RCAP has been on the ground providing technical assistance to rural communities affected by hurricanes since the storms hit, and this funding will allow the RCAP network to expand that work.

“Ensuring safe drinking water has proven to be a critical first step in rebuilding the small Texas communities ravaged by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August 2017,” explained Ines Polonius, CEO of Communities Unlimited. “Once critical community backbone infrastructure — a town’s water and waste water systems — is back in place and functioning properly, families can begin to rebuild their lives in the place they call home.”

With this funding, RCAP will assist rural communities, borrowers, and small water systems in Texas, the Southeast US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands in their recovery from the recent hurricanes. RCAP regional partners including the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP), Communities Unlimited (CU), and RCAP Solutions will assist small utilities to complete damage assessments and disaster technical assistance work plans, apply for Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) disaster programs, file insurance recovery claims, and update existing Security Vulnerability Assessments and Emergency Response plans.

“Our work in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is in higher demand than ever before.” says Karen A. Koller, CAE, President and CEO of RCAP Solutions. “The increased funding provided by the disaster recovery grants will allow RCAP Solutions to provide additional vital technical assistance and services to those in desperate need of safe, clean drinking water as we assist in the rebirth of those communities.”

Rural communities of 10,000 or less impacted by natural disasters are often the last to get assistance. This grant will provide RCAP the opportunity to provide long-term technical assistance to communities in need of basic capacity building expertise in immediate response to the hurricanes that impacted their communities.

“The funds awarded to the SERCAP region for disaster recovery will assist our communities impacted by the devastating 2017 hurricane season,” said Hope F Cupit, CPA, President & CEO of SERCAP. “SERCAP is committed to rebuilding small communities in Florida during the long-term period of recovery.”

 

Rural Community Assistance Partnership is a national network of six regional non-profit organizations working to ensure that rural and small communities throughout the country have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The RCAP network provides a variety of programs to accomplish this goal, including direct training and on the ground technical assistance. For more information, visit www.rcap.org.

 

There are no words to properly address our gratitude…

Acueducto Rural Guacio, is a community water system located in San Sebastian Municipality of Puerto Rico. Guacio is a low-income community were 57.9% live below the poverty line with a median household income of $14,463. The aqueduct provides drinking water to 85 rural families, most small farmers of minor crops.

The water system consists of two deep wells and a 52,000-gallon capacity distribution tank in which water is treated with a tablet chlorinator. The drinking water is distributed by gravity to all members and the community charges a flat rate of $20 per family per month for water consumption. The RCAP Solutions Technical Assistance Provider (TAP) assisted Guacio by helping submit a proposal that would provide funds necessary for the installation of individual water meters.

With this improvement, the community was in the process of shifting from a flat rate charge to one based on cost per consumption. The TAP assisted the community by helping to set the new payment structure, but the project was put on hold due to damage created from Hurricane Maria. The system suffered several broken pipelines due to landslides, but were able to rapidly repair and replace them. Since there was no electric power to operate the system, they tried to operate it with a generator, but it was damaged, and the community was without water service for more than 3 weeks.

Due to the emergency, RCAP Solutions was assisting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Health in completing drinking water assessments in rural areas. After performing Guacio’s assessment, RCAP was able to provide and install a new generator with assistance from the EPA, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Water Mission, another nonprofit organization with a focus on clean water solutions.

As a result, the community was once again able to operate the water system and provide safe, clean drinking water to the entire community. They were incredibly grateful for the work RCAP Solutions offered, and their partnership with Water Mission in providing the generator and bring power to the water system.

 

“Today, the 19th of October, we would like to give thanks to RCAP Solutions and Water Mission for recognizing and prioritizing the need in this area. We are a small non-profit community water system (Non-PRASA) that provides water to 86 families. We are well organized and well managed and have been successfully providing water for many years. For the last month, to keep our system open and serving our almost 90 families, we had to manually throw water into our distribution system to keep things flowing without the electricity that normally runs our pumps. We are very proud that we kept our system going since many other systems with similar issues were closed. In the last three days it has been a miracle that RCAP helped us to overcome a month of extreme sacrifice and get our system back to running normally. Thank God for RCAP Solutions and what they have done to help us–there are no words to properly address our gratitude.”

– Teresa Torres Quiles, from Aqueducto Rural Guacio, San Sebastian municipality of Puerto Rico.

Click here for more information on our REACH Out to Puerto Rico & USVI Campaign.