Restoring power to Puerto Rico could take months, governor says
Head of island's power authority says hospitals and water systems will get priority power restoration
Imagine having no electricity for months. Credit and debit cards are useless. ATMs are out. No Internet, television or air conditioning. Dead cellphone batteries. Everything from the water supply to sewage treatment to the preservation of food is threatened. What happens to the most medically fragile citizens?
Cash-strapped Puerto Rico’s energy grid took such a severe blow from deadly Hurricane Maria that restoring power to the island could take months, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló says.
The entire system is down. That means more than 3 million American citizens on the US commonwealth will be without power for four to six months.
“I do not know of any US state going without power for that long after a disaster,” says David Merrick, director of the emergency management and homeland security program at Florida State University.
“I don’t believe that would be tolerated.”
What can be expected from the US?
How will President Donald Trump respond?
President Donald Trump has told reporters that he will visit Puerto Rico, but has not said when.
“Puerto Rico was absolutely obliterated,” Trump said this week. “We’ll work with the governor and the people of Puerto Rico.”
A White House official said Trump wants to visit, but the island might not be ready.
“He is committed to going, but date is still unclear,” the official said. “There are significant infrastructure concerns.”
Trump also issued major disaster declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, making federal funding available for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs.
What is FEMA doing?
On Friday, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency was to begin delivering much-needed generators, meals, water, cots, blankets and other crucial supplies to the island.
FEMA says the US Energy Department will work with other agencies in power restoration efforts on the island.