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Puerto Rico Has Lost Power Island-Wide, Again

On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a category 4 hurricane. After local officials reported extensive damaged and several causalities from the storm, over 60 percent of the territory was left without power—which had devastating effects for the citizens of Puerto Rico who were battling subsequent floods and injuries from the natural disaster. As Puerto Rico attempted to recover and struggled to get necessary resources to recuperate from the storm, 80 percent of Puerto Rico lost power again on Nov. 9, 2017. Though hurricane season is currently on hiatus, Puerto Rico once again encountered a power outage on Wednesday morning (making this the second power outage in the last week). 

While it’s been approximately seven months since Hurricane Maria afflicted Puerto Rico and the U.S. territory suffered the subsequent power outage from the storm, The Associated Press reports that Wednesday’s power outage could be a side effect from the hurricane last year. As AP suggests that the most recent power blackout could be a result of an unstable power grid, which was caused by Hurricane Maria last year, San Juan officials aren’t happy about this most recently electrical disturbance. (After all, nobody is ever excited about a power outage, especially when it's a reoccurring problem.)

Shortly after the outage, Yulin Cruz tweeted, “The entire electrical system in Puerto Rice collapses AGAIN! Back to September 20th.”

According to the National Public Radio (NPR), the Puerto Rice Electric Power Authority (PREPA) says that the they detected an issue with a transmission line between two power plants, which caused the electrical interruption.

Conversely, officials told The Weather Channel that Wednesday’s outage happened after an excavator accidentally took down a transmission tower. This recent outage occurred merely a week after a fallen tree caused an outage for approximately 870,000 households and businesses, according to The Weather Channel. Contrary to The Weather Channel's sources, The New York Times reports that nearly 1.5 million residents were affected by Wednesday's power outage. 

While the cause of Wednesday’s island-wide power outage doesn’t appear to be definitive yet, Vox notes that the electrical utility hopes to have the power restored within 24 to 36 hours. As PREPA works to regain power for the utility’s customers, necessary organizations such as hospitals, water systems and the airport will have priority as the power is intermittently restored.

However, after nearly 24 hours since the initial outage on Wednesday, some Puerto Rico residents are still experiencing power outages. One twitter user said, “Sorry everyone, were still facing here in Puerto Rico some blackouts throughout the whole island. Since Hurricane Maria hit. But im still here supporting my boys. BTS!! PUERTO RICO BTS.”

Although some customers are still without electricity, officials are gradually restoring power to Puerto Rico. Another resident of Puerto Rico tweets, “#TituTrending: A la 1 a.m. de hoy, la AEE restableció el servicio eléctrico a 648,576 clientes en todo Puerto Rico.” In English, the Twitter user’s message translates to, “#TituTrending: At 1 a.m. today, ESA reinstated electrical service to 648.576 customers throughout Puerto Rico.”

Despite the fact that officials are still working to restore Puerto Rico’s power, it’s undeniable that the U.S. territory still has an incessant power dilemma. USA Today notes that PREPA suffered 9 billion dollars in debt after last year’s hurricane season, and the company filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

USA Today also adds that while this is the second major power outage to plague Puerto Rico in the last week alone, there are still people who have not had electricity since Hurricane Maria hit the island. (Which means there are tens of thousands of U.S. citizens who have been powerless for the last seven months.)

According to WIRED, there are still 62,000 residents of Puerto Rico who are without electricity. However, Puerto Rico’s perpetual power crisis won’t be amended unless the power utility fixes the power grid—and PREPA needs substantial funding to do so.

An energy analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Cathy Kunkel, tells USA Today, “Until PREPA is back on a more stable financial footing, it seems like they are continuing to have major problems with reliability. It’s very worrisome.”

Beyond being left in literal darkness, extended power outages can cause health complications for residents who need medical equipment. Even for those who don’t require electronic medical devices for their health and well-being, power blackouts can make safe food refrigeration nearly impossible. For meats and other animal byproducts especially, lack of electricity can create exponential food safety risks. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), if you aren't able to store chilled foods at the proper temperature (40 °F or below), then individuals run the risk of contracting dangerous, and potentially fatal, foodborne illnesses and bacteria.

Nearly a month after Hurricane Maria initially made landfall, President Donald Trump received criticism for threatening to withdraw necessary relief efforts from the island, which was dubbed a potential “humanitarian crisis” by Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló. As Puerto Rico is once again in the dark, the U.S. president has yet to comment on how and if he will aid this U.S. territory during its ongoing power issues.

Nevertheless, there are ways that you can help Puerto Rico restore its power. By donating to Puerto Rico’s Real-Time Recovery Fund, you can help Puerto Rico’s officials fix the island’s power issues, which can also help prevent further damage from this year’s approaching hurricane season.

Chelsea is the Health Editor and How She Got There Editor for Her Campus. In addition to editing articles about mental health, women's health and physical health, Chelsea contributes to Her Campus as a Feature Writer, Beauty Writer, Entertainment Writer and News Writer. Some of her unofficial, albeit self-imposed, responsibilities include arguing about the Oxford comma, fangirling about other writers' articles, and pitching Her Campus's editors shamelessly nerdy content (at ambiguously late/early hours, nonetheless). When she isn't writing for Her Campus, she is probably drawing insects, painting with wine or sobbing through "Crimson Peak." Please email any hate, praise, tips, or inquiries to cjackscreate@gmail.com
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