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JUST IN: Generators used to power The Breakers headed to Puerto Rico


Two beefy generators that provided reserve power for the opulent Breakers resort in Palm Beach will soon serve a more urgent need in Puerto Rico.

The donated portable powerhouses will ensure reliable running water is pumped to the steep hillside communities in Juana Diaz, where electricity is still spotty seven months after Category 4 Hurricane Maria mangled the island’s electrical grid.

Just a week ago, a nearly island-wide blackout reminded residents of the fragility of the system and unpredictability of the water supply in some rural communities.

RELATED: Unlikely pair bring relief to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

“As I speak with you now, I’m without power in Juana Diaz,” said South Palm Beach resident Victor Hernandez, who on Monday was working at one of his hotels on the island. “It’s just non-stop outages, and the reality is, it’s not very reliable.”

While Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, has generators to keep his hotels open, communities in the winding foothills can be without water and in the dark when the power goes out because electricity is needed to run water supply pumps uphill.

Hernandez has been working with the West Palm Beach-based Eagles Wings foundation since October to get relief to communities on the south side of the island far from the capital San Juan.

Scott Lewis, a Palm Beach landscaper and founder of Eagles Wings, helped facilitate the generator donations and shipping. He also had his mechanic give them a tune up.

“I just wanted to make sure they are all good, not just burned out,” Lewis said. “The power outage last week tells everyone they are still having some significant problems.”

RELATED: My trip to Puerto Rico, Island continues long road back after storms.

The generators offer 150 kilowatts and 80 kilowatts of power. They provided backup electricity to The Breakers’ Golf and Tennis Club, including the Flagler Steakhouse, and the North and South Ocean Towers.

While a decade old, and a little rusty, both were used after Hurricane Irma. Breakers spokeswoman Bonnie Reuben said the generators were replaced as part of ongoing efficiency and performance upgrades.

“We put feelers out to see what we could do with them and if anyone needed them,” said Reuben, who credited Breakers Community Outreach Manager Parisa Leve with the effort. “We knew there was a need in many areas.”

Check The Palm Beach Post live radar.

Hurricane Maria was the fourth major hurricane in a hyperactive season abuzz with powerful storms.

It made landfall on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 with maximum winds near 155 mph — just below Category 5 strength.

Maria quickly took down Puerto Rico’s National Weather Service radar tower. The electrical system stood no chance.

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Katherine Waldron, a Port of Palm Beach Commissioner and co-founder of the Palm Beach County Cares coalition, said the group set aside between $15,000 and $20,000 to ship the generators to Puerto Rico and help set them up once there.

Lewis and Hernandez intend to check on the generators in about five weeks to ensure they’re being used appropriately.

“Puerto Rico is still hurting, but the rural areas are even worse because they are harder to get too,” Waldron said. “We’re helping with transportation and set up, but (Lewis) has been the champion spearheading it.”

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