After Maria hit the island on Sept. 20, with winds up to 155 miles per hour, electricity was knocked out across the island.
Estimates of damage in Puerto Rico could hit $30 billion, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research, as reported by the Washington Post.
The island’s main electricity provider, government-owned Electric Power Authority, is racing to restore the island’s grid. In addition to such a large job the utility faces financial problems. The utility has $8.3 billion in debt, according to Bloomberg. Even before Maria, outages were common, and the median plant age is 44 years, more than twice the industry average. It may take months to turn the power back on.
"We knew this was going to happen given the vulnerable infrastructure,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello said, as reported by Bloomberg.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would open an air bridge from the mainland on Sept. 22, with three to four military planes flying to the island every day carrying water, food, generators and temporary shelters.
The government has also hired 56 small contractors to clear trees and put up new power lines and poles and will be sending tanker trucks to supply neighborhoods as they run out of water.