San Juan mayor denounces ‘missing’ Electric Power Authority data
SAN JUAN – Amid preparations ahead of the passage of Hurricane María over Puerto Rico, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz denounced Electric Power Authority (Prepa) Executive Director Ricardo Ramos’s refusal to provide information about the capital’s current state.
During a press conference at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum, which will serve as a shelter for about 500 people, the mayor said her “calls were never answered; my text messages were never replied to,” adding that Ramos was not projecting credibility.
“The absence of data and information is the seed for despair,” Cruz said as she emphasized that she doesn’t know the exact number of Prepa customers in her municipality whose service has yet to be restored since Hurricane Irma two weeks ago, although Ramos assured Monday that the total was 46,401.
Cruz stressed that “it is imperative that the capital city is up and running as soon as possible,” by highlighting that San Juan is not only the island’s center for economic development, but also the main tourism area, where help arriving at the ports will be received, as well as those affected from neighboring islands.
The mayor also urged Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to demand that the executive director of the public utility respond and be transparent with the 78 municipalities once María’s threat is over.
“We are Puerto Rico’s window to the world…. To say a building is a customer is public relations talk, and people deserve and need to know the truth,” she said while hoping Prepa’s lack of response has to do with “partisan politics.”
Shelters open for San Juan residents
Meanwhile, the mayor announced that two shelters will open Monday for the homeless: Campo Alegre and El Gandul. She anticipated that Community Social Development personnel will visit the capital’s streets Monday to ask those who are homeless to take shelter.
As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Casa Alcaldía will provide shelter to residents of Puerta de Tierra, La Perla, La Puntilla and Old San Juan. Meanwhile, the School of San Juan will become a shelter for municipal employees and their family members who live in flood-prone areas.
Another 300 beds will be available at the Pedrín Zorrilla Coliseum. Barrio Obrero 1, on Borinquen Avenue, will provide about 100 cots. Along with Roberto Clemente Coliesum, this adds five shelters in the capital, with capacity for more than 1,000 people.
Of San Juan’s 6,300 public employees, about 1,500 will continue working until María hits. It could reach the island as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest since Georges, a Category 3 in Sept. 3, 1998.
Cruz said schools will not open as shelters. In the case of an emergency, contact 787-480-2222. The line will be available throughout the emergency.
Small businesses at risk
There are hundreds of small-business owners who have been forced to stop operations due to a lack of electric power service. The mayor said she has been told by some small business that they “have had to close their stores.”
Asked how she intends to help business owners who haven’t had power since Hurricane Irma two weeks ago and could continue without it after María, Cruz said small business owners and those who experienced damage to property should go to the Roberto Clemente Coliseum for more information on available aid.
The information center will be available until Monday, Sept. 25, and be provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). An information center for those who with damage to their home and other help will be available.
“We have taken all humanly possible precautions,” the mayor assured. “It is the moment when preparation, prudence and solidarity is what should prevail,” she added.