Over Half a Million Puerto Rican Power Customers Are Still Reportedly Without Electricity

96-year-old Rosa Maria Torres, San Lorenzo sector, Puerto
Rico. Image via the AP.

On Friday, Governor Ricardo Rossello and interim director of
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Justo Gonzalez
announced that
, months after Hurricane Maria devastated the
island, only 55 percent of Puerto Rico’s roughly 1.5 million
customers have power. That’s a slow crawl from the
50 percent reported
in November and a far cry from his
October promise to have restored power for 95 percent of the
island by now. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told ABC
News that they estimate the island will not have full
until May

Fredyson Martinez, vice president of a union that represents
workers with Puerto Rico’s power company,
has told
the Associated Press that progress has slowed in
part due to a lack of equipment and supplies. According to the
Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

that restoration is further complicated by “rough
terrain” and “an aging infrastructure that was not maintained
given the island’s 11-year recession.”

The lack of power has also delayed record-keeping, which has
skewed mortality rates,
according to
the New York Times. Last week, the
Times published a report estimating that, based
on comparative statistics from previous years, the death toll

could be as high as
1,052–a horrific uptick from the
Department of Public Safety’s official count of 64, and Trump’s
famous early-October
of 16 deaths.

Trump’s general indifference–waving it off as not a “real
catastrophe like Katrina,” literally tossing paper
at the problem–might even have derailed the recovery
process, contributing to the slow grind which has quite
possibly contributed to the relatively high mortality rates.
Last week, the Washington Post
a Refugees International
claiming that “thousands of people still lack
sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry,
safe places to sleep.”

“[I]t is troubling that it took five days before any senior
federal official from 4 the U.S. mainland visited the island to
survey the damage,” they add.

“At a time when FEMA was fighting disasters on numerous fronts,
the President’s direct engagement would have brought with it
the necessary focus, resources, and the ‘get it done’ mentality
the disaster warranted. Without that direct engagement, the
response quickly ran into challenges and became bogged down in
bureaucratic processes that were poorly adapted to the

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