MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been more than two months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, yet the island is still in crisis mode.
Architecture students at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis are hoping to ease some of the burden.
Next semester, faculty will teach students about public interest design through a project meant to help the people of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
"It's an opportunity to give them another way of seeing how to practice architecture and how you can impact lives in a larger way," said John Dwyer, program manager of architecture + interior design at Dunwoody College.
Dwyer will teach the class with Laura Cayere-King--project manager and project designer for Peterssen/Keller Architecture in Minneapolis.
Cayere-King was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has family still living there.
"I talked to my brother for the first time last Monday. So communications are still spotty. We know that 45 percent of the island has electricity but it's still spotty," she said.
To get an idea of the community's needs, Cayere-King and Dwyer will travel to Puerto Rico next Tuesday and work with the nonprofit Ponce Neighborhood Housing Services.
Dwyer, who also worked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, said it's important for them to listen to community members to figure out how they can best help.
"The hope is that we can out of that develop a set of projects that would be the most beneficial and initiate the first of those projects, or first couple projects, depending on what their scope is in the studio in the spring," Dwyer said.
Their students, seven of them, will then have the option to travel to Ponce over spring break and help where they are needed.
"This trip and this semester is the beginning for us. We are hoping that this relationship with the organization in Ponce is something that lasts many years. And that we can start to--even in the beginning--talk about that plan, that 5, 10 year plan, for where they want to see their community go and how we can best help get them there," Dwyer said.
Dwyer and Cayere-King will be in Puerto Rico next Tuesday-Saturday and plan on bringing supplies for the community.
If you'd like to help, you can donate to St. Paul Foundation's El Fondo Boricua. Dwyer said they plan on working with the foundation.
Cayere-King added, "There's still a lot of work to be done. We don't want to forget."