Damaged solar panels are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico on 22 September 2017. Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

By Jon Schuppe
23 September 2017

(NBC News) – A team of New York electricity-transmission workers and a pair of drone operators arrived in San Juan Friday to help the reeling government of Puerto Rico begin to measure the damage to the U.S. territory's power grid.

The entire island remained without electricity into the weekend, days after Hurricane Maria thrashed its fragile and neglected network of plants, lines and poles.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, is unable to complete the task of restoring power on its own: It is bankrupt, just like the Puerto Rican government. The utility would not begin regular operations until Monday to "avoid jeopardizing the safety of its employees," according to its executive director, Ricardo Ramos.

In addition, when Maria hit, PREPA was in the midst of restoring power to the last of 1 million households that went black during Hurricane Irma only weeks earlier.

This time, there's no telling how long the power outages will last. […]

The crews arrived on a donated JetBlue flight and included engineers, planners and technical supervisors from the New York Power Authority. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commissioned the flight and joined Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in surveying the destruction.

"The devastation of the island is really breathtaking," Cuomo said after returning to New York Friday night. "There are parts of the island that had as much as seven to eight feet of water in homes."

"The entire power system on the island is down. The only systems that are operating are operating by generator," he said. [more]

Why It's Unclear When Puerto Rico Will Get Power Back

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