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It took 11 months to restore electricity to Puerto Rico

Jaclyn Whittal

Wednesday, August 15, 2018, 1:59 PM - It took almost a year to turn the lights back on in some Puerto Rican homes following Hurricane Maria.

It's great news that the last of the people without power have the lights back on, but in most people's opinion, it took far too long.

Imagine cooking and trying to get the kids ready for school in the morning and bath time at night.

Actually -- you can forget bath time if you don’t have fresh water and electricity.

Imagine being without power for a few weeks here in Canada.

Now try to imagine being without power for almost a year.

Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico last September when nearly 3.4 million residents were left without power on as the island struggled with Hurricane Irma's brush earlier that month.


Puerto Rico's electric utility said it completed restoration of power to all of its customers on Tuesday, nearly 11 months after Hurricane Maria left homes and businesses in the dark.


Puerto Rico's power grid was effectively destroyed by Hurricane Maria, leaving millions without electricity when the storm made landfall on Sept 20 as a Category 4 storm with winds of 250 km/hr just offshore.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló estimated that Maria caused at least US $90 billion in damage. As of September 26, 2017, 95% of the island was without power, less than half the population had tap water, and 95% of the island had no cell phone service.

One month after the hurricane, in October 2017, 88% of the island was without power (about 3 million people), 29% lacked tap water (about 1 million people), and 40% of the island had no cell service.

All hospitals were open at that point, but most were on backup generators that provide limited power.

About half of sewage treatment plants on the island were still not functioning.

FEMA reported 60,000 homes needed roofing help, and had distributed 38,000 roofing tarps. The island's highways and bridges remained heavily damaged nearly a month later.

Only 630 km of Puerto Rico's 8164 km of road were open.

Even today some towns remain isolated and delivery of relief supplies, including food and water, are hampered. Helicopters are the only alternative.

Three months after the hurricane, in December, 45% of Puerto Ricans still had no power. That's about 1.5 million people.

It took until this week to turn the last set of lights on. Now, people are nervous about the upcoming hurricane season and the threat of more storms doing damage to the grid again.

Stay tuned to The Weather Network for the latest outlook on the 2018 Hurricane Season.


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