Darkness and Despair In Puerto Rico

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More than three months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, millions remain without power. In October, Gov. Ricardo Rossello promised to have power restored to 95 percent by Dec. 15. Yet roughly 50% of the 3.3 million who live on the island are without power. And it has not been easy to survive these last few months.

Doris Martinez, from the town of Morovis, goes twice a week with her daughter for their handout, 24 bottles of water and a box filled with staples like canned vegetables, tortillas and cereal. Even after she has received her handout-often a two hour wait in the hot sun, she then will wait on a second line to cook on one of six gas burners in the administrator’s office of the public housing where she resides.

There is a cry of disbelief that the United States remains unable to help restore power to its citizens more than 90 days after a natural disaster. And, the long wait does not appear to be over yet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said it likely won’t be until May that all of Puerto Rico is electrified.

Even three months later, basic needs have not been met. City officials never showed up to clear the debris, and crews with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency did not come until December to assess the damage.

The storm cost an estimated $95 billion in damages. Close to 200,000 homes have been damaged and 1,000 homes lost their roofs. Locals use a creek for bathing and washing clothes, with separate times for men and women.

Much of the delay is blamed on rough terrain and the already poor infrastructure in the electric grid. However, the locals say that the government did not properly prepare for the storm nor did they activate any mutual aid agreements with the US mainland quickly enough.