Puerto Rico: No Power, No Phones, And “Unprecedented” Damage
This article comes from ZeroHedge.com
Hurricane Maria has moved on from Puerto Rico and was passing the Turks and Caicos Islands Friday morning as a Category 3 storm. But the devastation it caused will disrupt life on the island for the next six months, possibly longer, as the cash-strapped US territory struggles to rebuild its power grid and other crucial infrastructure that was completely destroyed by the storm, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
More than 95% of Puerto Rico’s wireless cell sites are currently out of service, according to the FCC. That is worse than the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which knocked out 56% of the island’s wireless network. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said restoring electricity to the island “could take weeks or many, many months.”
But the damage goes beyond cell towers. The most powerful hurricane to hit the US territory in almost a century hobbled the island’s telecommunications system, destroyed its power grid and left communities facing widespread devastation. Puerto Rican authorities have warned the island’s 3.4 million residents that the island faces a difficult and expensive path to recovery from Maria. As the territory rushes to provide initial relief to its struggling citizens, Abner Gómez, executive director of the island’s emergency-management agency, said residents should be prepared to sustain themselves without aid for 72 hours, given the severity of the damage, the obstacles to reach people and how thinly stretched government resources are.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency is working with telecom providers to help get the communications networks back online. About a week after Irma hit, all but 6% of Puerto Rico’s cell sites were back online.
“Unfortunately, getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages,” Mr. Pai said.
In an interview aired on the only radio station left that could still broadcast across the island, PR Gov. Ricardo Rosselló described the situation on the island as a crisis. Flooding and mudslides are a “giant problem” especially in rural, mountainous areas, he said, adding that damage to the island’s infrastructure was enormous and the cost to fix it will be “humongous.”