Why it matters to you
Puerto Rico’s road to recovery will be going on long after it’s out of the headlines, and this website can help people keep track of the status of its infrastructure.
Early on September 20, Category 4 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, taking roofs off houses and doors off their hinges. The storm brought down radar, weather stations, and cell phone towers. It left the island without power. Almost two weeks later, the majority of the residents still don’t have power. In fact, less than 7 percent of customers of Electric Power Authority (AEE), the U.S. territory’s main utility provider, have electricity. That’s up from 5 percent on September 29, according to the Washington Post.
The Puerto Rican government set up a website, status.pr, that lets residents check how many gas stations are open and the number of hospitals that are up and running. So at least, the 40 percent of those with internet or cell service can check it, provided they also have access to some electricity. 88 percent of cell sites weren’t yet working as of Monday, according to the Federal Communication Commission.
The site went live on September 29, and it shows the small signs of progress that are happening on the island. The number of supermarkets that are now open has risen from 49 percent to 65 percent in the past few days, and 814 of the island’s 1,100 gas stations are operating. There are fewer people and pets taking refuge in shelters. Some stores and hospitals are running on generators, and Tesla sent over some of its Powerwall batteries and is helping to repair solar panels.
While the numbers are important, they don’t tell the whole story. With the electrical grid down in so many places, only 27 percent — 315 — of the island’s ATMs are able to dispense money. There are long lines of people waiting to get cash, so they can buy supplies, and people are only allowed to take out $40 at a time, CNN reports.
Meanwhile, some regions are having a harder time getting pallets of food and water delivered, due to impassable roads or destroyed bridges. Almost half of the island’s 3.4 million people now have running water say government officials, but only one in five households in rural areas are among them.
Though the numbers on status.pr are slowly creeping up, Governor Ricardo Rossello has said it could take months before electricity is fully restored to Puerto Rico.