Microgrids funded and installed by church and volunteer groups promise to supply essential electricity to poor neighbourhoods hit by natural disasters.
‘Community Lighthouses’ offer power, and hope, in the aftermath of disaster
Enthusiastic New Orleans church volunteer Sonia St Cyr lost something she treasures during the blackout caused by Hurricane Ida: her independence, afforded her by the electric wheelchair she expertly manoeuvres over bumpy city sidewalks.
“After Ida I was housebound,” said St Cyr, who has multiple sclerosis. She did her best to conserve power on her wheelchair, going only to the end of her block or sitting on her porch after the storm made landfall on August 29 last year.
It took 10 more days before all of the habitable homes in New Orleans had electricity again. With the lights out and nothing open in her Broadmoor neighbourhood of New Orleans, “It was not fun.”
A project launching in southeast Louisiana aims to help people like St Cyr who are especially vulnerable during extended power outages as the warming climate produces more extreme weather including bigger and wetter hurricanes.