6 Months After Hurricane Maria, More Than 100,000 Puerto Ricans Are Still Without Power
Some won’t have power until May.
Six months ago today, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico — knocking out power for millions, shutting down schools, and forcing hospitals to rely on backup generators.
Progress restoring normality to the island has been slow, and still an estimated 121,000 people are without power, CNBC reports.
And many of these residents are not yet in the clear, according to reports. Some may still have to wait up to two months to finally have power restored to their homes, Justo Gonzalez, interim director for Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (PREPA), told AP News.
As the timeline for restoring power to the island continues to extend, US leaders are calling for action to speed up the process, even as the US Army Corps of Engineers begins to reportedly withdraw its workers.
“While we recognize that much progress has been made in restoring power to the majority of customers, the job is not done,” a letter from the US House Committee on Natural Resources to the US Army Corps of Engineers, read. “The federal government has a responsibility to the remaining customers who are without power to ensure that their power is restored as quickly as possible.”
“We do not understand how reducing the number of personnel helps accomplish that goal,” the letter added.
The remaining PREPA customers who are still without power, according to the House Committee on Natural Resources letter, are primarily located in mountainous, rural, and hard-to-reach areas.
That includes the province of Yabucoa, where 65% of the population is still without power.
Across the island, the lack of power isn’t the only concern.
An estimated 50,000 people across the island are relying on FEMA distribution sites for food and water, according to Justo Hernandez, deputy federal coordinating officer for FEMA.
The storm and its aftermath could also lead to a mental health crisis, especially for women, Refinery29 reports.
“This makes me feel desperate, anguished and depressed," Daiza Aponte Torres, a resident of the city of Carolina, told NBC news. "Although my girls are OK healthwise, we don't have a home."
As for now, PREPA has continued to assure residents power will be restored to the entire island by May.
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