Sparta Report

Only Half of Puerto Rico Has Power

This is what life is like in a bankrupt third world country. Despite the efforts of the Puerto Rican government and assistance from the US, they have only been able to get about half the power back. Full restoration of power is not expected until May next year, more than six months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit:

The revelation that more than 660,000 power customers across Puerto Rico still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria has sparked outrage, surprise and resignation among some islanders who accuse officials of mismanaging their response to the Category 4 storm.

It’s the first time the government of the U.S. territory has provided that statistic, which was released as authorities warned that a lot of work remains and that crews were still finding unexpected damage after Maria hit on Sept. 20 with winds of up to 154 mph, knocking power out to the entire island. Officials said 55 percent of Puerto Rico’s nearly 1.5 million customers have power.

“It’s just extraordinary that it is still so far away from being 100 percent recovered,” said Susan Tierney, a senior adviser for Denver-based consulting company Analysis Group who testified before a U.S. Senate committee on efforts to restore power in Puerto Rico. “I’m not aware of any time in recent decades since the U.S. has electrified the entire economy that there has been an outage of this magnitude.”

One of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities remains entirely without power, and it’s unclear when some electricity will be restored to the central mountain town of Ciales. Crews this week restored power for the first time to parts of the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, which received the first hit from Maria.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said that power will likely be restored to all of Puerto Rico by May, noting that reconnection efforts have been slow-going at times in part because of the island’s rough terrain, lack of supplies and an aging infrastructure that was not maintained given the island’s 11-year recession.

The Virgin Islands, unlike Puerto Rico, is making much more progress. Kenneth Mapp, the governor of the Virgin Islands, vowed to have 90% of the power back on by Christmas, and while it doesn’t seem like they hit that target, they are getting close with 98% of the power restored to St. John, and more than 60% of St. Thomas and St. Croix restored the last time an update was given several weeks ago.

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