Roughly eight months ago, Hurrican Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, effectively crippling the power grid. All of the lights across the Island were snuffed out and the Army Corps of Engineers was sent to frantically try restoring power.
Come Friday, the Corps will be relinquishing their efforts to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, leaving more than 20,000 residents still without power. Many are rightfully worried about the state of the Island, and whether or not it can withstand another storm.
When it comes to the power grid, many are hesitant to claim that the local power agency will be able to get it to 100% before another storm. As it stands right now, the grid is extremely fragile. According to an article in The New York Times, “an excavator got too close to a high-voltage line, and the entire island was plunged into darkness.”
Some homes have gone without repair, and all that protects homeowners from the possible devastation of another hurricane is a thin blue tarp weighted down over the roof.
In contrast to the dim outlook from the perspective of the citizens, Puerto Rican officials hold a more positive take on their current situation. The reason being is perhaps due to a few differences between last Hurricane season and the one starting June 1.
Last year when Hurricane Irma cruised past Puerto Rico and tore through the United States Virgin Islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent the majority of the hurricane relief supplies to Puerto Rico’s neighboring islands. Unfortunately, those supplies were located at FEMA’s warehouse in Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island ill-equipped for Hurricane Maria, which was riding on the curtails of Irma.
This year, the warehouse has been restocked with emergency supplies, effectively giving Puerto Ricans a fighting chance despite a weakened disposition.
Shelves are brimming with 100,000 tarps, 3.6 million ready-made meals, 10,000 blankets, and 130 high-capacity generators. Emergency Management agencies have also stockpiled almost seven times as much water, 5.4 million liters compared to last year’s 800,000, especially since a human can only last three to four days without it. FEMA also rented four warehouses in order to keep 67 recovery centers open during the storm season, and more than 2,800 FEMA employees are staying in Puerto Rico to aid in the event of another hurricane, according to The New York Times.
Furthermore, officials have increased the number of days that residents will need to withstand on their own in the event of a storm from three days to 10. That means residents will need a minimum of 10 days worth of supplies to last them until emergency services can make rescue efforts after a disaster.
While Puerto Rico anxiously prepares for another devastation, the rest of the world holds their breath in hope that it never comes.