Half of Puerto Rico is without power more than five days after Hurricane Fiona struck the U.S. territory — including an entire town where not a single work crew has arrived
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Half of Puerto Rico is without power more than five days after Hurricane Fiona struck — including an entire town where not a single work crew has arrived.
Many on the U.S. territory are angry and incredulous, and calls are growing for the ouster of the island’s private electricity transmission and distribution company.
Fuel disruptions are worsening the situation, forcing grocery stores, gas stations and other businesses to close and leaving apartment buildings in the dark because there is no diesel for generators.
Many are questioning why it is taking so long to restore power since Fiona was a Category 1 storm that did not affect the entire island, and whose rain — not wind — inflicted the greatest damage.
“It’s not normal,” said Marcel Castro-Sitiriche, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez. “They have not given a convincing explanation of what the problem is.”
He noted that Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority and Luma, a private company that took over the island’s power transmission and distribution last year, also have not released basic information such as details of the damage to the electricity grid.
“We don’t know the extent of the damage yet,” Castro said, adding that he was concerned and surprised that Luma had not brought in additional crews to boost extra manpower already on the island.
Luma has said Fiona’s floods left several substations underwater and inaccessible, and it has insisted it doesn’t need more personnel.
“We have all the resources we believe we need,” said Luma engineer Daniel Hernández.
The lack of power has prompted at least one mayor to activate his own repair teams, and several other town leaders are calling for answers on why Luma crews have not reconnected homes and key infrastructure.