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Home / World / A new hurricane season begins in Puerto Rico. Thousands still live without electricity.

A new hurricane season begins in Puerto Rico. Thousands still live without electricity.




Jose Jimenez / Getty Images

San Juan in a power outage on April 18.

In Puerto Rico, there are still around 1

4,000 households and businesses without electricity, although Governor Ricardo Rosselló claimed last month that the island's power would return to normal

And another hurricane season has just begun.

On April 25, Rosselló CBS said this morning how long people in Puerto Rico would live without electricity.

The expectation is that next month we will be able to achieve this normality, "he replied.

How much longer will people be in the dark?

"The expectation is that we can achieve this normality within the next month, but it's important to know that the hurricane season is coming back in a month [June 1] and we need to see how we can get tougher." -Gov. @RicardoRosello https://t.co/HCka8tVKEh

This has confirmed what the PREPA officials have said publicly in recent months: The network would be repaired and run full speed, however fragile, until June 1, when the hurricane season starts again.

As of Thursday, PREPA reported that the island's power generation was 95.2%, reaching 99.06% of its customers – or about 1,485,900 households. With an average of 2.8 people per household, this could mean that not even 39,700 people have power.

"PREPA workers and support companies will stay in cities, streets and neighborhoods all over the island to continue to work intensively, all customers have electrical service," a spokesperson for PREPA told Buzzfeed News when asked what they would say to those who face another storm season without restoring power.

Representatives of Rosselló and Hector Pesquera, Commissioner of the Puerto Rico Department of Public Security, did not return a request for comment.

For people who still live without power, the cost of fuel-guzzlers and adaptation to life without basic infrastructure has taken a toll.

Veronica Acevedo and her family in Hoyos The planes were completely cut off from the outside world after the storm – and had not received any help when BuzzFeed News reached them two weeks after the hurricane.

In February, m Only four months after the storm, Acevedo was still waiting for electricity, still waiting for the road to their house to be repaired. She lived in her house with a damaged roof – a blue FEMA tarpaulin that kept the elements outside, but did not prevent drops and moisture throughout the house.

"I'm just waiting to see what happens," Acevedo said on

This week, she said nothing has changed.

"There is still no electricity and we are still waiting for the roads to be cleared."

"There is still no power and we are still waiting for the roads to be cleared," she told Buzzfeed News this week. "They said they send teams to start work [next] Tuesday."

Her neighbor, Suzanne Jorgensen, gets power from a solar system she installed a few months ago, but has no power from the grid since September. She said that two weeks ago crews had restored power to houses within walking distance of her.

"I can not believe they stopped there," she wrote in a Facebook message. "Understood the wires coming down today – VERY Rubegoldberg – no improvement – just a quick fix, but hey, they have electricity and I do not !!!"

The PREPA spokesman said parts of Yabucoa, Humacao and Las Piedras – where the hurricane landed – and parts of Utuado and Adjuntas in the mountains are expected to be out of power on June 1st.

Across the island, local leaders have been dealing with delays and misconceptions of PREPA while waiting for the crews

and the federal agency charged with restoring power ceased two weeks ago, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) working on the power lines 703 FEMA generators were installed on the island

These generators are used to power the island's water pumps and "have nothing to do with PREPA," said a PREPA Speaker to Buzzfeed News.


The Washington Post / Getty Images

The View of a Powerless House in Caguas on March 28

FEMA decided not to extend USACE's power supply mission despite Puerto Rican Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon

Asked after the decision, FEMA Buzzfeed said News only the governor has the power to ask for an extension of the mission. Rosselló only asked for the continuation of the maintenance and supply contracts.

Even for the customers who restored power, the grid proved unstable. Power comes and goes sporadically, even without the added pressure of a tropical storm season.

On Vieques Island, Shelly Myller said power supply crews did not arrive until mid-February, after a group of locals got together and pressured lawmakers to send for help.

She said she went without energy for 185 days and finally received on March 9.

"It was okay last week, but it's sort of cycling," Myller said.

In Vieques, she said, the hurricane season does not pick up until late in the summer – but she said the new season was still worrying.


The Washington Post / Getty Images

Flashlights in a house without electricity in Cayey on March 1.

"I do not think we're ready, our infrastructure is still fragile," she said. "There were no improvements, they literally just brought the poles back in. There was a road where they had to set up all the wooden poles where steel poles used to be."

Since November, the island has experienced at least three major blackouts. In April, a power failure put out 840,000 people when a tree fell on a power line. Later this month there was another power outage across the island.

PREPA told BuzzFeed News that the system should be fully restored before building a more resilient network. Reports from on-site line workers suggest that it may be in an even more fragile state than Maria's, lacking suitable materials.

For the time being, the power grid will be replenished exactly as it used to be, with the vast majority – 2,336 miles – of lines on vulnerable above-ground poles and 155 miles of underground cables.

Earlier this month, Puerto Rican authorities held a press conference to discuss their hurricane preparedness. They talked about four new supply depots, the distribution of satellite phones and radios, and an increased presence of FEMA personnel stationed on the island.

"It is important for the public to know that the government is prepared and we have updated these protocols. I am working on it and working with FEMA to increase our capacity for the next hurricane," Rosselló said. "We are ready to respond more effectively."


Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Local reporters asked how the government can tell the Puerto Ricans that they are ready to recover from Maria, especially when the power grid is still so unstable.

On Thursday, Rosselló told the Associated Press that he is not confident that the net can withstand another storm.

"It is a very fragile and vulnerable system that could suffer more serious damage than any other natural disaster," he said.

Pesquera added: Grid is here, but the grid is not there. It staggers, "he said," even if it's a (Category 1), it's in such a state that I think we're going to lose power. I do not know how long.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts predict that the 2018 storm season could produce five to nine hurricanes, of which one to four could be major category 3 or higher hurricanes, when Maria landed in Puerto Rico Category 4.

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