US citizens needing help in Puerto Rico probably won’t be able to register with FEMA online or by phone anytime soon. It’s been lights out since Hurricane Maria roared from one end of the island to the other last week. Mile after mile of residential power lines are down, the pole-mounted transformers that convert the transmitted electricity to voltages and currents used by households and offices are either wrecked or missing altogether, and many of the power plants themselves suffered heavy damage. The wreckage wrought by Maria to the grid alone is so extensive that it could take years to repair:
The damage is so severe that simply repairing the electrical grid may not be an option. “We really should think in terms of rebuilding at this point,” says Ken Buell, director of Emergency Response and Recovery with the US Department of Energy. Paying for it will be a challenge, however: the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, is bankrupt, with at least $9 billion in debt, The New York Times reported in July. “They’re saying as far as economic impact, we’re talking probably billions of dollars of impact,” Buell says. “So it’s a big deal.”
When Donald Trump isn’t busy dealing with the national crisis of football players kneeling for a few moments during a song, or hating on Republicans in Congress who are mortified at the thought of insurance companies not being able to drop children battling leukemia, he’s quick to say how great a job he’s doing in Puerto Rico. According to Trump, he’s doing such an incredible job that officials are calling him up to compliment the tremendous job he’s doing—and all he does is work! Thus begging for the Twitter tag #HeckuvaJobDonnie!
But PR will need drinking water, food, and fuel to power generators for months, possibly years in some places. So, at some point, people who actually know what they’re doing are going to have to put together a long term plan to help those millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico crawl out of the storm-induced stone age that has taken over the island.