Dam failure, escalating crisis stymie recovery in Puerto Rico


A destroyed house lays flooded in Catano town, in Juana Matos, Puerto Rico, on September 21, 2017, following Hurricane Maria. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMALHECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP – Getty Images

Pla said he was still concerned about islanders who were having trouble getting around. Downed trees and power lines have made roads impassable in places and there are concerns about rural regions and what effect the relentless rains had on dirt roads.

“The hurricane has been nothing short of a major disaster,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told MSNBC Friday.

All of this comes after Puerto Rico’s medical system already was strained as doctors have been leaving the island because of the economic crisis, as

NBC News reported last month.


Puerto Ricans Venture Out to Face Hurricane Maria’s Devastation

Gutiérrez also noted that the island has a largely older population because many of its young people have left find work on the mainland.

Caribbean News reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is flying in cargo planes loaded with water, food, generators and temporary shelters.

Mike Hyland, senior vice president of engineering services at the American Public Power Association based in Arlington, Va. said his organization was preparing to send a team into Puerto Rico when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered to bring them in on the plane he’d chartered in New York.

They accepted the offer, which allowed them to get the team in sooner than they thought they would.

The team includes helicopters and drone pilots. The drones will be used to scan the countryside to help assess the damage. Hyland spoke more optimistically about prospects for restoring Puerto Rico’s electricity.

“I would point to (Hurricane) Irma, how well Puerto Rico did … they were serving 96 percent in five or six days. To me that seems okay,” he said. But nothing will be certain until a damage assessment is complete. As soon as the team arrives, their task will be similar to surveying every electric system structure in the state of Connecticut, Hyland said.

“Our job is to get the lights back on,” he said.

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