From the date Hurricane Maria hit, 9-20-17 to 12-31-17, 3 1/2 months later, 660,000 customers or about 1/2 of all customers in Puerto Rico still don’t have power! See the comments at the end.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — 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.
Among those still in the dark is Christian Pagan, 58, who lives near the capital of San Juan and said it was the government’s fault that a large number of people still don’t have power.
“Everybody saw that the devastation was great, but I don’t understand why they’re trying to sell people something that’s not real,” he said of the explanations the government has provided as to why power has not been fully restored. “The first month was lost to bureaucracy and an uncoordinated reaction.”
He especially criticized the power company’s former director, Ricardo Ramos, who resigned in late October after signing a $300 million contract for a Montana-based company that had only two full-time employees when the storm hit. Ramos also had said that he did not activate mutual-aid agreements with power companies in the U.S. mainland in part because there was no way to communicate with them.
“That’s the kind of help you ask for three days before the hurricane,” Pagan said.
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.
Some believe it might take even longer, especially those living in central mountain towns like Eileen Cheverez, a 48-year-old respiratory therapist from Morovis. Power was restored last weekend to homes around her, but she’s still waiting for crews to set up a key cable so she can have lights.
“It’s like a lack of respect. I know the damage was great, especially in the mountains, but I feel they’ve taken too long,” she said, adding that seeing homes lit up around her gives her some hope amid the frustration.
It is not yet known what percentage of businesses and homes now have electricity. Power company spokesman Geraldo Quinones told The Associated Press that officials don’t have that data yet because the optical fiber that helps provide that and other information was destroyed by the hurricane.
Fredyson Martinez, vice president of a union that represents Puerto Rico power company workers, told the AP that the company should have provided the number of customers without power a while ago, adding that officials had other ways of obtaining the data. He also said a recent study by local engineers found that 90 percent of industries and 75 percent of businesses already have power, meaning residential areas are disproportionately in the dark.
Amarilis Irizarry, a 38-year-old graphic designer, lives in one of those areas. Every day, she drives underneath an electric post that fell across the road to her apartment in Trujillo alto, hoping it won’t finish falling on her car and kill her and her young son.
“This is horrible,” she said. “I didn’t think it would take so long…To have only half of Puerto Rico with power three months after the hurricane, that’s worrisome.”
Government officials said nearly 14,000 poles already have been shipped to Puerto Rico, and that another 7,000 will arrive in upcoming days. In addition, some 3,500 workers are trying to restore power across the island, with many working through the holidays.
“We know that the priority of our clients is to know when they will receive the power service again,” said Justo Gonzalez, the power company’s interim director. “Maria severely impacted most of our energy infrastructure.”
Officials said Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of transmission lines, 30,000 miles of distribution lines and 342 substations that suffered substantial damage during the hurricane.
Carlos Torres, who is overseeing power restoration efforts, said that crews are still finding unexpected damage including what he called severely impacted substations.
“We will not stop working until every person and business has their lights back on,” he said.
From the comments:
Someone made a mistake at Yahoo. They let a real story appear on their site, one that has the people of PR not blaming President Trump; but actually placing the blame squarely where it belongs. The people are blaming the right people, their local & island government officials. What a surprise. I am shocked this article made it on Yahoo.
I came here wanting to get one last look at the crying d bag from PR who claims it’s Trump’s fault. How disappointed.
The real truth is the mayor of San Juan sabotaged the recovery, on orders by Progressive pals in the US; She told the unions to go on strike, rather than distribute aid as the ships arrived… then to demand cash payments from the military… NOT their bosses, before working.
When the government owns the utilities and most people are employed or supported by the government it is called communism.
If they are angry it should be at their local leaders who failed to prepare for hurricanes. Living in an area prone to hurricanes makes local government responsible for emergency plans to aid the affected area. Inept governing on this island has been the real disaster for years before Maria hit their shores.
The root cause of this mess is the liberal progressive concepts of using public funds to buy votes rather than operate the government in a responsible way. They are now paying the price for that. The question is whether or not the people learn for the past failures of the government.
Liberal Dems have run that Island for going on 50 years. They were bankrupt before the hurricanes. Trump said they want everything done for them and of course the lib media called him a bigot. The place should be a tourist hot spot and rich beyond belief. Instead much of the island is backwards ghetto.
This is what happens when you focus intensely on turning yourself into a welfare state. Maintenance and preparation are thrown by the wayside so that even *more* people can get paid to stay home or have do-nothing government “jobs”. And all the while, your workforce and work ethic is atrophying, unable to step up when your time of need arises.
Stop voting in the garbage you have for government and PR will not have this problem plain and simple. Look at Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore….all those cities have incompetent leaders. Hopefully PR residents learned their lesson from all this when it is time to vote.
Puerto Ricans should take a good long hard look at what Socialism brings them. In this case, incompetence beyond bearing. That being said, I hope the US does all in it can to help these people to restore electricity.
PR was a patchwork third world island only a cut above Haiti. You had a chance to reform the government with Luis Fortuño but voted him out because he endangered your welfare state. Now all the loser mooches are moving to Florida.
They lied when they said power would be back on by december. They are the same feckless incompetent corrupt politicians that got you into this situation. Lets help fix this mess, pay a part of the debt and set them on a path to independence. They do not share our language culture or values. Otherwise have a infrastructure that could handle a major hurricane would have been above more socialist handouts. PR and its people are not Americans.
Hope the voters remember who was their mayors when elcections are held again. Totally unprepared for a regular seasonal storm and failed to maintain the power grid in good repair. Throw all the bums out. Lets not forget the big BONUSES they gave themselves.
This is what happens when you elect corrupt socialist to lead your commonwealth. Will Puerto Ricans learn their lesson, or will they continue to vote for socialists?
Moore’s Law. Coming soon to a future near you.
The average I.Q. in Puerto Rico is 84.6. But, that wouldn’t have anything to do with why the island was a disaster even before the hurricane, right? Add in rampant political corruption and this is the result.
Why don’t you ask the liberal dems who run the Island where the money went.
Let PR enjoy its leftist Dems paradise. The GOP doesn’t haven’t anything to do with PR failed Dems government
What are Democrats excuse for letting Puerto Rico fall into such disrepair in the first place???
DEMOCRATS CONTROL PUERTO RICO!!!
It is under their watch that the infrastructure has deteriorated so badly, it has become known as “welfare island”, and is $70+ billion in debt thus the reason they were looking for a federal bailout!
The political parties in Puerto Rico are……..
PNP – New Progressive Party
PPD – Popular Democratic Party
PPT – Working People’s Party
PIP – Puerto Rican Independence Party
Funny, I don’t see a Republican Party on that list!!!!
If there was and they were in control then the island would never have been $70+ billion in debt and their infrastructure would not have been in such a terrible shape.