MADISON, Wis - On Tuesday, Mayor Bernardo Marques Garcia of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, visited about a dozen Madison locations to learn about programs that could help the island's rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria.
He spoke to city officials about the benefits of solar power, food carts and community gardens.
His visit is part of an initiative with the Open Society Foundation called the Mayor Exchange. Puerto Rican and American mayors were paired up to share ideas about recovery efforts.
Last month Madison Mayor Paul Soglin visited Toa Baja to see the areas where it needs the most help as hurricane season approaches.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Soglin said helping to restore the island is just the right thing to do. He said Madison city staff and businesses could travel to Puerto Rico to assist in development of a solar energy system.
"There is a need when the hurricane strikes, when the power system goes down, to have electric power. And this is a way of doing it that's obviously environmentally responsible and is going to be available in the worst of circumstances," said Soglin.
Mayor Marques Garcia said the first 13 days after Hurricane Maria were the worst because the area was not prepared. Two local hospitals collapsed.
Marques Garcia said he and Soglin have similar visions of how to create programs with a democratic point of view that put people first.
He said his visit helped him realize he can do things in Toa Baja because they're already being done in Madison.
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