The Forgotten: Half of Puerto Rico Without Power 100 Days After Hurricane Maria
Puerto Rico (Sputnik) – Half of Puerto Rico is still without power, three months after Hurricane Maria unleashed its wrath on the island, making it the longest blackout in American history.
A shortage of supplies is claimed to be at fault for the excruciatingly slow restoration the US island’s electrical grid.
“The materials are arriving but at a really slow pace. Sadly, we are hardly working,” said a lineman. “In the meantime, we try to reuse whatever materials that can be found onsite which are rusty and unreliable,” according to the Daily Beast.
The lineman was brought in from the mainland, along with 27,000 other workers, to help repair the electricity grid.
“I can count with one hand the times we’ve seen brigades work in our streets,” Carmen Maldonado, the mayor of Morovis, a Puerto Rico municipality, said. “The economy has plummeted, our elders are in need of medical care, and schools are barely operating.”
The US Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for repairing the island’s electricity grid, but the organization claims it does not have the necessary supplies.
“Puerto Rico is competing for supplies with Texas and Florida, whose electrical grids were similarly ravaged by hurricanes,” claimed Army Corps spokesman Luciano Riviera.
According to Rivera, only 9,100 new transmission poles out of the 52,000 required have arrived so far. He noted that 8,100 posts are supposed to arrive every two weeks beginning next week, indicating that power will not be completely restored on the island until March at the earliest. Several municipalities, including Maunabo, Yabucoa, and Naguabo, have no electrical grid at all.
“My people are the verge of a collapse,” said Javier Garcia, the mayor of Aguas Buenas, which has approximately 28,000 inhabitants.
“We are simply forgotten,” Garcia said.
“I don’t know who to trust anymore. Week after week, [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Army Corps] say that they will send brigades our way but they never show up. We have not seen a single brigade in the past 93 days,” Garcia stated.
This report prepared by Sputnik