Puerto Rico death toll rises from Hurricane María
SAN JUAN – On Wednesday, the secretary of Public Affairs & Public Policy for La Fortaleza, Ramón Rosario Cortés, said the number of deaths related, directly or indirectly, to Hurricane Maria increased from 51 to 54.
“We have a case in San Sebastián, of a person who, working on a [storm-impacted] tree, had an accident and subsequently died. In Vega Baja, [there are] reports of the unfortunate suicide of a person who lost his job after the hurricane’s passage, and a third [person] in San Lorenzo, who received the impact of a tree branch and then died in the hospital,” the secretary said in a press release.
Rosario Cortés added that “as we have informed, the secretary of the Public Security Department, Héctor Pesquera, is working with hospitals and the Forensic Sciences Institute to report any death that was directly or indirectly related to Hurricane Maria.”
Meanwhile, it was revealed that in the past hours some customers of the Electric Power (Prepa) and Aqueduct & Sewer (Prasa) authorities were affected by failures at these utilities.
Prepa reported 37.9% consumption and, in the early morning, a failure in a 230-kilovolt line that connects the south with the northern Central Cambalache Powerplant in Arecibo.
“The director of Prepa, Ricardo Ramos, informs us that they will be inspecting the powerline to identify and correct the failure. However, although some customers were affected, the failure did not collapse other power generation for the metropolitan area,” Rosario said, although the affected sectors were not specified.
He said that partial connections were made for Aguadilla, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Coamo, Guaynabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Isabela, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Lares, Manatí, Mayagüez, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San Juan, San Germán and San Sebastián.
Regarding Prasa, 82% of its customers were reported as having service. All service areas have increased or remained the same, except for the western region, which had problems with the Caimital pump station in Aguadilla, which was related to low production at the filtration plant.
With this failure, Aguadilla’s Cameyes and Caimital neighborhoods, and Ramey base have been affected. There were also problems in Ciales and Toa Alta resulting from power generators. To date, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has installed 195 generators of the 547 Prasa requested.
In addition, the secretary said the hospital ship USNS Comfort is docked at the San Juan pier, evaluating patients for medical attention. Those people who meet requirements will be cared for on the ship. During the past 24 hours, more than 125 patients have been treated there.
Meanwhile, in telecommunications cell network service is pegged at 70%, with 1,164 of the 1,619 antennas that operated before the hurricane now reported to be working.
“To the installations of the telecommunications systems [in the San Juan area] on Roosevelt [Avenue], which already had electricity from Prepa, and the facilities at Tres Ríos and Metro Office Park, they were all added [to the list] of re-energized areas. We have had failures in these important areas for telecommunications, but we are working to provide stability to the energy service at these facilities,” Rosario Cortés said.
Similarly, it was reported that Liberty Cablevision, the communications company, continues to offer Wi-Fi in various municipalities in collaboration with the government to provide internet service and allow citizens to fill out applications from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and receive health, entertainment and other services. On Wednesday, FEMA will be in Arecibo, Thursday in Cayey and Friday in Humacao.
There are still 3,304 storm evacuees in 75 shelters across the island, according to government website www.status.pr.