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Hurricane Maria, when it slammed the Caribbean, knocked out 100% of the power in Puerto Rico. Additionally, nearly half of the island is in disrepair and in ruins. How is it, that nearly 6 months after a major storm, that this island nation still has no power nor progress towards reconstruction? Several factors contribute to this slow-moving process. In the capital city, San Juan, residents are faring much better. A large part of the city has had their power restored, but not completely. It is far worse in the countryside, where progress towards electricity and reconstruction are minimal. Just yesterday, a small municipality called Arecibo that was supposed to receive electricity, did not. The reason? A microgrid fix was delayed at the last minute. This has been a consistent pattern throughout the nation, unfortunately.
It’s no secret that President Trump has a certain disdain immigrant nations. His vulgar comments about African nations and Haiti were like “the shot heard around the world”. Everyone heard it. Everyone reacted to it. It was that shocking, even for him. While he claims that the nation is improving and looking much better, such isn’t the case. 35% of the country is still without power. The energy companies are lagging behind in their work, and residents complain that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is also lackluster in their efforts. Trump even mentioned that he would withdraw FEMA from Puerto Rico, based on his earlier comments. This country is a U.S territory, but it is clearly not a priority for the mainland. Hence the slow rebuilding progress and increasing frustration from the residents.
Another reason power restoration has hit such a roadblock is that Puerto Rico’s power authority, PREPA has made a series of poor decisions. They signed a $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy. This is a little-known energy firm in Montana without even a competitive bidding process. After this deal, residents were hoping that electricity would finally be restored to their country; it was only temporary. After several federal and national investigations into the deal, PREPA not only canceled the contract, but its director also resigned shortly afterward. The country is also lacking thousands of power poles and other important equipment that are required to restore electricity nationwide. In other words, Puerto Rico is in dire straits.
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Puerto Ricans are slowly losing faith that their nation will restore electricity around the island anytime soon. Nearly 40% of the country is still without power. Now the government is saying that people won’t have full power back until May, nearly 8 months after the storm. The economy, and moreover, the people, are suffering. People need electricity to go to work, go to school, and to carry out daily tasks. Puerto Rico is already in a terrible financial situation. With such a long delay, everyone and everything suffers from the repercussions.