The Response: How Puerto Ricans Are Restoring Power to the People

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, a quiet revolution began percolating on the island of Puerto Rico. What started as an impromptu community kitchen meant to help feed survivors in the town of Caguas quickly grew into an island-wide network of mutual aid centers (Centros de Apoyo Mutuo) with the ultimate goal to restore power — both electric and civic — to the people.

In 2018, a little more than nine months after Maria, Shareable began working with a team of filmmakers, writers, audio engineers, partners, and funders on “The Response” documentary to share this story with the world.

Since completing the film 18 months ago, it has been nationally broadcast in the U.S. on Free Speech TV, selected by several film festivals (The Earth Day Film Fest, Focus International, Southeast Regional, etc.), and won 10 awards including a 2020 Humanitarian Award from The IndieFEST and Gold from the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Today, on the four-year anniversary of when Maria made landfall, “The Response: How Puerto Ricans Are Restoring Power to the People,” is now available for everyone to see.

Watch “The Response” here:

The 30-minute award-winning micro-budget documentary explores community-led disaster response and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico; letting the people involved in the mutual aid centers tell their own stories of the storm, recovery, and the tenuous relationship between the Puerto Rican people and the government.

Despite the grave nature of this storm, which many believe to be the worst disaster to hit the United States or its colonies in the past 100 years, this story is also celebratory. For some, there is a deep joy that has accompanied the sadness; a feeling of solidarity and possibility that didn’t previously exist in the same way before the storm.

The film also acts as a reminder of how damaging climate-fueled disasters can be and urges us to consider how resilient our communities are, how best to adapt for the changes ahead, and how to respond and rebuild in a just and equitable way with extra consideration for the most vulnerable populations.

"The Response" Film PosterIn addition to TV and festival screenings, the film has served as the anchor for over 30 nonprofit, community, municipal, and university convenings hosted around the world to discuss community-led disaster response and how to build collective resilience before they occur.

While the film is now available on-demand, bringing people together for an in-person or online film screening is still a great tool for facilitating a dialogue about the lessons learned in Puerto Rico and how your community can increase its resilience to current and future disruptions.

To receive a free toolkit for hosting a screening, please fill out a short registration form here.

On Tuesday, September 28th, Shareable will be co-sponsoring a special screening of “The Response” as part of the Regenerative Communities Summit. Register here to join Producer/Narrator Tom Llewellyn for a discussion following the film.


This article is part of our series on disaster collectivism. Download our free series ebook here.

Tom Llewellyn


Tom Llewellyn | |

Tom Llewellyn is the interim executive director for Shareable, a nonprofit news + action hub promoting people-powered solutions for the common good. As part of his role at Shareable,

Things I share: Food, Stories, Time, Skills, Tools, Cars, Bikes, Smiles, Clothes, Music, Knowledge, Home, Land, Water, and Stone Soup!