Karina Santiago Gonzalez works on a small electricity generator in Morovis, Puerto Rico, in December 2017. Photo: Carlos Giusti / AP

By Marwa Eltagouri
12 April 2018

(The Washington Post) – About 840,000 people across Puerto Rico were without power Thursday as the U.S. territory continues to struggle after the damage caused by Hurricane Maria last fall, according to island’s Electric Power Authority.

The power company, in tweets Thursday, said that a tree had fallen onto the main line supplying power to the capital, San Juan, and its surrounding communities along the northern coast, and to the southeast part of the island. The tree fell as crews were clearing land in Cayey, a mountain town in southeastern Puerto Rico, as part of a power-restoration project connected with the hurricane.

The blackout is the latest source of frustration for Puerto Ricans, who have dealt with the power lines failing multiple times in recent months. Since the hurricane tore from the island’s southeast corner though the central mountains and out the northwest coast six months ago, several communities near Cayey remain without power. Across the rest of the island, more than 1,200 generators provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are still the primary source of power for hospitals, more than two dozen police and fire stations, correctional facilities and water pumps.

Blackouts are common: One in mid-February caused by an  explosion at an electrical substation left nearly 1 million around San Juan without power. What is worse is that the next hurricane season is less than two months away.

Power slowly began returning to various parts of San Juan on Thursday afternoon, said the capital’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, in a tweet. Backup generators powered Puerto Rico’s main public hospital and international airport.

The power company’s interim director, Justo Gonzalez, estimated that full restoration of power lost in this blackout could take up to 11 hours across the island.

“This is the SAME line that was ‘fixed’ by Whitefish,” the mayor tweeted, referring to Whitefish Energy, a small Montana firm that landed Puerto Rico’s biggest contract to restore power.

The contract was canceled after lawmakers began asking how the company, which had just two employees at the time of the storm, claimed it brought hundreds of workers and 2,500 tons of equipment to the island to make electrical repairs. [more]

Another power outage hits Puerto Rico, leaving about 840,000 in the dark, officials say

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