Help Voltaic Help The Rockaways After SandyBy Jeff Crystal
We were in the Rockaways earlier this week to distribute solar kits. We found residents still do not have power and many are unable to leave their homes. We are starting a Buy One Give One program today for our 3.4 Watt Solar Charger Kit in order to be able to expand the number of people we serve. Help expand our efforts now.
Above photos by Clayton Cubitt, rest by Voltaic.
We put together a basic 3.4 watt kit aimed at providing basic lighting and cell phone charging for individuals. It was made up of:
- a 3.4 Watt 6V solar panel
- an 11 Watt hour (3,000mah) Li Polymer rechargeable battery with a 5V USB output
- an extension wire between the panel and the battery with a waterproof connection and a mini USB adapter to connect to the battery
- plus a USB light running off the battery
- and finally a set of phone adapters and a USB cable for charging cell phones etc.
We had put together a higher powered kit with relief centers in mind. Actually they seemed to have generators and charging stations for cell phones. In one case the Greenpeace rolling sunshine solar vehicle was put into service as a charging station. Watch the video.
There were quite a few relief efforts going on, mainly grass roots church and community groups. The national guard was there and a lot of police and utility workers, but they seemed to be focused more on cleanup and restoring power.
The Occupy movement was relatively well organized. We found them in the community center of one of the high rise buildings at 59th and Rockaway Beach Blvd. It sounded like they had indeed occupied in the face of some resistance from building management.
There was clearly a need for our solar lighting /cell phone charging kits. The biggest issue was getting them to the people who needed them most. The organizers made it clear that if we just put them out on the tables they would be gone immediately “hey, this is still New York”.
Eventually we learned that there were a lot of elderly and immobile people stuck in their apartments. With no electricity, the elevators were not working and these were about 16 story buildings. They had a list on the wall of 37 apartments that needed help, that was just in one of the 3 towers, the remaining ones were still to be checked.
There was one young (really fit) guy, Raha, who was trekking up and down the stairs to check on people and bring them what they needed. These seemed like the right people to set up with solar. They were not in a position to come down those stairs to plug their phones into the charge station running off the generator, and torches were in short supply.
We managed to enlist Raha as our solar installer so he could install the kits as he did his rounds. We went through all the product details with him and he was up to speed pretty quickly. Then he headed back upstairs with the first ones in hand.
There is talk of power being out for another 3 weeks in Rockaway so although the disaster is over for many, there are still many thousands of people in the dark.
Please help us expand our efforts by participating in our Buy One Give One program. We’d like to have more people get access to safe lighting options and keep their cell phone access.