Half of Puerto Rico Still Doesn’t Have Power—104 Days After Hurricane Maria

Karina Santiago Gonzalez works on a small power plant in Morovis, Puerto Rico on Dec. 21. Karina Santiago Gonzalez works on a small power plant in Morovis, Puerto Rico on Dec. 21. Carlos Giusti / AP

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico more than three months ago. And the latest figures show 45% of electricity customers in Puerto Rico still don’t have power.

Data on the extent of the outage has been hard to come by. Puerto Rico’s electrical utility says it is operating at 69% of normal capacity—but that figure doesn’t indicate how many of the island’s residents are actually receiving power. The system that monitors the extent of distribution is not working. On Dec.29, the governor put the official estimate of those in the dark at more than 660,000 people, 45% of the island’s 1.5 million electricity customers.

So now, 104 days since Maria hit, the 660,000 figure is the first to come directly from the Puerto Rican government. A group of local engineers estimated on Dec. 11 that roughly half of the island’s total 3.4-million population still had no power, according to the Associated Press.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has said it would take until May to get power back to all of Puerto Rico, with mountainous regions likely to be the last. That means some Puerto Ricans could go a total of eight months without power.

Utilities in the US are beginning to send crews on temporary deployments to help get the grid back up. Wisconsin-based We Energies and the Wisconsin Public Service announced last week they would be sending crews for a month at a time, Duke Energy of North Carolina has pledged 220 workers, and Texas-based Oncor, Texas’ largest electrical utility, is sending 1,500. New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced in November he would send 350 utility workers to the island.

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