Puerto Rico Condition – Critical, Sinking

October 12, 2017

Joe Romm in Climate Progress:

Three weeks after hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, FEMA reported Wednesday that only a little more than 10 percent of the island’s 3.5 million U.S. citizens have power. That is down from 16 percent on Tuesday and back to levels from a week ago (see chart below).

The Trump administration is bungling the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s grid –and trying to do it the dirty, old, expensive and vulnerable way (as we predicted). It’s time to take Tesla CEO Elon Musk up on his offer to rebuild the island’s grid the clean, modern, cheap and resilient way — with clean energy.

“Puerto Rico is still mostly an island deleted from the present and pushed back a century or so,” Wired’s Adam Rogers wrote Tuesday in a stunning article, “In Puerto Rico, No power means no telecommunications.” Luis Romero, vice president of the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Alliance, told Reuters, “Every day is a challenge. We’re a bunch of hunter-gatherers.”

Wired calls this “an almost unimaginable outcome” for a U.S. territory this big. But the first year of the Trump administration has made an almost daily practice of redefining what is imaginable.



At Vox, we decided to compare what the government has been saying with other reports of deaths from the ground. We searched Google News for reports of deaths in English and Spanish media from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. We found reports of a total of 81 deaths linked directly or indirectly to the hurricane. Of those, 45 were the deaths certified by the government. The remaining 36 deaths were confirmed by local public officials or funeral directors, according to the reports. We also found another 450 reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and reports of at least 69 people still missing.

Erin Carrera, a nurse volunteer with National Nurses United who was just in the town of Utuado, had this report Wednesday:

People are somehow surviving with the food and medicine they had on hand. They have received NO provisions. There is no running water and no electricity. Nobody is aware of the risks of drinking untreated water. We went house-to-house teaching families and asking that they spread the word. We also provided urgent care where we could. These communities are at great risk of water born illness epidemics. They need clean water that is safe to drink! There is a public health crisis coming to Puerto Rico that we could prevent with proper supplies and support from the US government. These conditions would not be tolerated in the 50 states. It is outrageous that we are leaving our fellow Americans with essentially no aid.

Daily Beast:

UTUADO, Puerto Rico—Hunger was never in Minelba Irizarry’s house, but Monday the only thing left in her kitchen pantry was two bottles of water and a can of tuna.

Utuado is a small town located in the central mountainous region of Puerto Rico where roads have been nearly impassable since Hurricane Maria struck three weeks ago. Even with the help of the Armed Forces, delivering food and other basic necessities has been almost impossible.

“It’s been hard, really hard to find food these days,” Irizarry said. “People are suffering a lot and I have lost all the food I saved for two weeks,” she said while washing the dishes and keeping a close eye outside her window to see if FEMA would bring another round of fruits, bottled water, and noodle soup packets.

“FEMA should come anytime now,” Irizarry told Sebastian, her 9-year-old grandchild that stood on the porch as if a starter pistol was about to go off, ready to race to a truck and beat the hunger.

In Yabucoa, east of San Juan, the mayor says his residents are starving.

“There are people who are suffering from hunger in my town and I have ran out of supplies,” said Rafael Surillo, estimating 5,000 face starvation.

“I received food yesterday but it only lasted for few hours. I don’t know how the central government is handling the food distribution, but they got it mixed up,” he said while driving around town to deliver water.

Hunger was evident on the road with Surillo. In one home the only meal a family had to eat for the next days were yuca and plantains grown in her backyard.

“We are lucky because we harvest our own food, but it has come to a point where we are reducing the portion sizes significantly. I can’t imagine people who rely on supermarkets,” said Dailin Rosado, mother of three children.

Not  everyone has a field to grow crops. Carlos Flores, the secretary of Puerto Rico’s secretary of the Department of Agriculture told The Daily Beast that hurricane Maria caused $1.8 billion in losses to the farmers, leaving the island to rely almost entirely on imported food.

14 Responses to “Puerto Rico Condition – Critical, Sinking”

  1. indy222 Says:

    An incredible tragedy to be happening in the U.S. in the 21st Century. My only question is – why hasn’t the revolution started already? Mueller – get the impeachment underway, and include the VP and Speaker of the House as well, and as many others down the presidential inheritance line as needed in order to get someone sane in the office ASAP. Invoke the 25th Amendment, and where the heck is our “V” and the millions of Guy Fawkes masks??

    • Jerry Falwel Says:

      Where is the tragedy? A lot of property damage, very few deaths. That is simply an inconvenient cost not a national tragedy. More people would have died from traffic accidents in the same period if the hurricanes had not disrupted travel.

      Fixing things will take time and the will to not rebuild in ravines, flood plains and with construction not high wind resistant. The real tragedy would be to build in the same spots and do nothing to make sure the same thing does not happen in the next hurricane.

      • ubrew12 Says:

        “Where is the tragedy?” Our fearless leader implicated that Puerto Rican infrastructure was a mess BEFORE the hurricane hit. It’s pretty simple to test this hypothesis: look at the lights over Puerto Rico at night both before and after Maria hit. Clearly, the darkness we see now justifies the LABEL ‘a mess’ (maybe 20% of the island has electricity, which means fresh water and proper sewage treatment). Just as clearly, the island BEFORE Maria hit, lit up like a Christmas tree, constitutes something a bit more civilized than ‘a mess’.

        Did our fearless leader tweet some ‘fake news’? Please tell me that has never happened before…

        It’s like I hit your car, and when you complained, told you that that make and model was ‘always a mess’. Clearly, I’m looking now at a mess. Who do you think you ARE to disagree with me?

        • Jerry Falwel Says:

          The grid in Puerto Rico failed because it was a mess, nobody invested in the things that would keep it from failing badly in high winds. I bet that was to keep power prices down so the politicians would not have to explain to the customers at vote time the facts of life. You notice the grid did not fail in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Cuba when hurricanes hit those places just as hard. You had local outages and loss of power for a short time and than things were up and running again.

          Take Cuba, Irma displaced a million people, 150,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. One month later only 11,000 people are in shelters, Cuba government works, Puerto Rico’s does not.

          • Jerry Falwel Says:

            Incidentally, 77 percent of gas stations are open, banks are open, stores are open, 56 percent have running water, 92 percent of the island has mail service which means all the main roads and most of the small roads are open. 12 percent of the power has been restored. Nobody is dying from water or food shortages. The anti trump establishment is simply lying;

    • Jerry Falwel Says:

      Just read this morning that power will be up per the Puerto Rican governor in March of next year for the island with large parts restored by late december. All that is being done by people who are trying to fix things, many of them FEMA and federal troops sent by your arch enemy Trump.

  2. a-rogers Says:

    Peter Do you know of others supporting solar in PR? We , here in TC, would like to help in some way.


  3. wpNSAlito Says:

    Just for the record, locals are *supposed* to take matters into their own hands in addition to what’s being supplied from outside. It shouldn’t be newsworthy that the healthy survivors participate in the recovery. Like, duh!

  4. Jerry Falwel Says:

    Cuba had a million people displaced by Irma, 150,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, one month later only 11000 people are still in government shelters and that was without billions of dollars in foreign money or thousands of foreign workers. Something is different between cuba and Puerto Rico, Cuba government works, Puerto Rico’s does not.

    As to the sinking part that is mostly BS. 92 percent of the mail is getting through which means all the major roads are open and most of the minor ones as well. 56 percent have the water working again, about 12 percent of the power is restored. 77 percent of gas stations are open and delivering gas. Banks and stores are open. Thousands of containers of aid, thousands of federal workers and troops are busy helping fix things. One problem with the containers sitting in San Juan is 80 percent of the truckers refused to work as they are on strike for more money. Neither the governor of Puerto Rico or the mayor of San Juan have addressed that problem as the striking workers who claim they are not on strike are supporters of both. Instead of nationalizing the truckers and trucks both of those slime blame Trump.

    Puerto Rico before the hurricane had 78 billion in debt for only 3.4 million people. They have asked congress to pay off that debt. Trump has proposed about 9 billion in hurricane relief which they would not have to pay back either. Puerto Rico pays no federal income tax so will never pay back the money they are asking the taxpayers to give them. Trump has pointed out that Puerto Rico has to step up to the plate and get off welfare. That is apparently not PC.

    • Actually the claims of trucker strike are hugely exaggerated

      “Cuba government works, Puerto Rico’s does not.”

      One is communist – i.e Socialist (where people work together for the common good) the other is not (Token help each other, but it is always what is in it for me and mine)

      • Jerry Falwel Says:

        We are not talking about communist or not, we are taking about a government that works or not. Cuba’s government works at least in the hurricane fixing sense, Venezuela is socialist and does not work, Mao’s government was communist and only worked part time, the present government of china seems to work full time, In FDR’s time he got a government which did not work, he got it going again, and in the WWII got it going so well we won the war. Our government worked pretty well for a long time, than it came down with the same cannot attitude of many government which fail and we got Vietnam, Bush’s family wars in the middle east and Obama war on the middle class.

        We have many things that need fixing, I hope they get repaired.

  5. Good old Conservative Libertarian Jerry
    Maybe a little thick, missing much of what was actually posted and and holding up the least affected metro areas as thye state of play.
    All the while praising the Socialist/Communist Cuba for their efficiency and effectiveness in comparison with the mess up the corporate/capitalist system is producing in PR.
    They should act for the small ruraL areas, first food and water then power and water filtration.
    Transportable rapid ROLLOUT 100Kw Trailer unit with battery storage and 300Kw with Battery in a container with rapid rollout and activation

  6. Not hard to rapidly rollout utility Solar and battery, a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost compared with a fossil fuel plant, without needing copious volumes of water to operate
    European of course, the US is that obsessed with fossil fuels they allowing the whole world to eat their lunch

    The magic of automation and technology, why fossil fuels are getting crushed

    • Jerry Falwel Says:

      There is no magic involved, You have a ground based installation on a prepared site covered in white gravel., nice and flat with prepared posts. All the rest is a pusher arm and a crane to move factory sections into place. That only works on a small subset of all solar installations. you simply ignore all the preparation before and after the panel sections are placed on the rack.

      You are also ignoring the solar panels themselves and storage. How much do they cost, can the power be stored? and where are the panels etc. made and what was the cost of building them in that location which in a lot of cases turns out to be polluted china where the panels are built using coal power sources.

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