As the new year was born, some three months after Hurricane Maria unleashed her fury on the island, at least half of the residents of Puerto Rico still had no power. That means, USA Today points out, “that some 660,000 customers out of a total 1.5 million are still without power.”
The Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica, the Puerto Rican government-owned company responsible for electricity generation, power distribution and power transmission on the island, says that it has given priority to restoring power to shopping centers, hospitals and factories, and that none of the 78 towns on the islands have had their power networks completely restored. At least one town — Ciales — remains totally without electricity.
And, AEE officials said, work is going slowly because repair crews are uncovering even more unexpected damage to the island’s infrastructure as they go along. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that power probably won’t be completely restored until May.
That’s eight months. And of course, the island’s demolished power grid is only part of the problem.
The problems there may seem overwhelming. But here is one way you can help:
Last October, Francesca Blanchard was invited to perform at a concert to benefit Puerto Rico. To personalize her contribution, she said, “I wrote a love song about emotional wreckage and destruction. It is an allegory for Hurricane Maria, using themes of loss and heartbreak applied to the unpredictable forces of nature.”
Blanchard is now selling digital copies of her song on Bandcamp. You can buy the song for as little as $1. But spend more if you can. In an email today (Wednesday, Jan. 10), Blanchard notes she has already raised $500. You can increase that total. Help if you can. We have to do more than throw paper towels at people.
You can also go here to read the account of Puerto Rico resident Diana Soto of life in the days after Maria.