On September 20th 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico with 123 mph winds over a period of 12 hours.
The Rhodium Group estimates that this storm was the strongest cyclone event in the Atlantic Basin in over 60 years. As of December 2017, nearly 55% of households had power in Puerto Rico. While life has improved for many people after the series of hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean, 660,000 out of a total 1.5 million in Puerto Rico are still without electricity.
“This is horrible,” Amarilis Irizarry, a 38-year-old graphic designer living in Trujillo, told the Associated Press. “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,” she said.
The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has led to one of the largest blackouts in US History. The chart below from the Rhodium Group compares outages of Hurricane Maria to previous hurricanes over the years.
According to ABC News, Governor Ricardo Rossello pledged 95% power generation by December 15th. However, the Army Corps of Engineers said that the entire island would not have power until May. Puerto Rico’s power company told the Associated Press that the majority of industries and roughly 75% of businesses have power, which means residential areas are disproportionately in the dark.
Puerto Ricans endure 3 months without power. Erin Burnett Out Front. CNN.com
Yubucoa, Puerto Rico, was one of the first areas to be devastated by Hurricane Maria, now it might be one of the last areas to receive power. CNN reported that Yubucoa might not receive power until summer, the beginning of hurricane season.
The Caribbean is utilizing many temporary solutions to meet power and water demands. The infrastructure necessary for permanent solutions will take years. Much of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was not maintained before Hurricane Maria and Irma due to their ongoing 11-year recession. The LA Times reported that the Army Corps of Engineers said while power is due to be restored by May, the process is slow going due to rough terrain, lack of supplies and aging infrastructure.
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“Anger and Dejection Grow as Only about Half of Puerto Rico Has Power Months after Hurricane Maria – LA Times.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2017, www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-puerto-rico-hurricane-electricity-20171230-story.html.
Houser, Trevor, and Peter Marsters. “America’s Biggest Blackout.” Rhodium Group, 26 Oct. 2017, rhg.com/notes/americas-biggest-blackout.
Kabc. “Nearly Half of Puerto Rico Still without Electricity.” ABC7 Los Angeles, 29 Dec. 2017, abc7.com/nearly-half-of-puerto-rico-still-without-electricity/2839102/.
Welle, Deutsche. “Puerto Rico: Nearly Half of Residents without Power Three Months after Hurricane Maria.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 1 Jan. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/12/30/puerto-rico-nearly-half-residents-without-power-three-months-after-hurricane-maria/992135001/.