865,000 Puerto Rico power authority customers still without service after Irma
SAN JUAN – Part of Hurricane Irma’s wake of damage includes some 865,000 Puerto Rico Electricity Power Authority (Prepa) customers who were still without service Friday at 2 p.m. The number represents 55 percent of the public corporation’s billing. That’s down from Wednesday night, when 74 percent of its customers lost power.
Electricity has already been restored to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, and only 20 of the island’s 69 hospitals continue operating with a power generator.
Meanwhile, 20 percent of Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) clients remain without water service, or about 240,000 customers, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said in a press conference at Puerto Rico State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management (Aemead by its Spanish acronym) headquarters in Caguas.
In a summary of the damages associated with Hurricane Irma, the governor indicated that of the 6,200 people who took shelter, 173 remain, most of them in San Juan, Canóvanas and Culebra. He explained the number of refugees increased in Culebra because people lost their homes.
As for the island’s roadways, he said 616 were reported Wednesday night, of which 320 (52 percent) were responded to by Transportation & Public Works Department (DTOP for its Spanish acronym) brigades. Of the 72 roads with obstructions Thursday, only 13 were still impassable Friday.
The governor said that of the 781 antennas that were not working Thursday, 431 were still out of commission Friday. There are 1,600 antennas around the island.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA by its Spanish acronym) and Metrobus services “are functioning by day, except in Piñones, where there still are [road] obstructions.”
Rosselló announced the creation of a Project Management Organization (PMO) for Resilience, Response and Recovery, to be presided by Housing Secretary Fernando Gil.
“The goal is that Puerto Rico is now in a position to have a number of resources for its infrastructure and for social impact. What we want to make sure is these resources are maximized and used effectively,” the governor said. “This PMO will be focused on procuring [federal] funds and ensuring the design is appropriate, the management of the projects, complying with regulations, which is critical.”
Ready to send aid to the Lesser Antilles
The governor confirmed that, at the moment, aid to the Lesser Antilles affected by Hurricane Irma has been limited to transferring patients to receive medical attention on the island.
Specifically, Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez said there are 49 patients–nine of whom are in intensive care–from St. Martin and St. John, who were relocated to the HIMA , Presbyterian, San Francisco and Veterans hospitals.
Rosselló stressed that a FEMA Incident Support Base was established in the municipality of Ceiba to support rescue efforts in the Lesser Antilles and will be requesting authorization to transfer first responders, if necessary.
Lastly, the governor said he was pleased with the citizen response before and after the category 5 hurricane. “It has been very successful. Puerto Rico grew. You responded to the call demonstrating civic unity before the storm and, what I could see is that after the storm as well,” he said.