Puerto Rico hit with island-wide blackout

In the dark: In December, 75-year-old Puerto Rican resident Joaquin Rivera Calderon uses a flashlight at his home in a rural town. The island has seen multiple power outages since Hurricane Maria, and was hit with a massive island-wide blackout on April 18.
Associated Press / Carlos Giusti

A massive blackout hit hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico on April 18. The outage affected all of the islands 3.3 millions residents, just days after a previous blackout cut power to about 870,000 people. In statement, Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr., who is of Puerto Rican descent, said this latest power outage only displays a lack of progress in the island’s recovery, and immediate action is needed.

“Today’s island-wide blackout on Puerto Rico shows that not nearly enough is being done to support and rebuild the island,” he said. “With hurricane season approaching, we need to work expeditiously to ensure the people of Puerto Rico are able to have a safe-haven from potentially devastating weather.”

But for Puerto Ricans, they find themselves in the dark yet again. Power went out when Hurricane Maria caused widespread destruction on the island seven months ago. And regular blackouts have occurred since.

In a tweet, the island’s electricity provider, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, said that full power restoration could take up to 24 to 36 hours to be fully functioning again.

Diaz says the government has not prioritized the island and its residents since the hurricane, citing lack of action and the people are dealing with the failure to act.

“The citizens of a first-world nation should not be forced to endure such fragile infrastructure. This is especially galling given FEMA’s current policy of denying extensions for housing in the United States for victims of Hurricane Maria, under the false premise that utilities in Puerto Rico have been restored,” he said. “This blackout makes it crystal clear that the federal government has abandoned the 3.5 million American citizens who call Puerto Rico their home.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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