Puerto Rico, Still Reeling from Hurricane Maria, Is Hit by an Island-Wide Blackout

Millions of Americans are without power.

Ricardo Arduengo via ZUMA Wire

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Puerto Rico’s power grid collapsed again on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

The grid has been unstable since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. In the town where the storm made landfall, just 35 percent of residents had power when Mother Jones reporter AJ Vicens visited last month.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted about the collapse on Wednesday morning, calling it a return to the day Maria first struck Puerto Rico. 

Officials say it could take 24 to 36 hours to restore power to the island, home to more than three million American citizens.

In a series of tweets in the afternoon, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello identified the culprit: an excavator that hit a crucial power line. Rossello blamed the outage on Cobra, an energy company contracted to restore the island’s electrical infrastructure, saying it was “directly responsible.” Cobra’s contract was increased to $945 million in February.

Earlier in the day, ranking House Democrats from the committees on energy and commerce, transportation and infrastructure, homeland security, and national resources wrote to Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long, asking him to extend the Army Corps of Engineers’ assignment in Puerto Rico. The assignment—to help restore electricity—is currently scheduled to end on May 18.

This post has been updated to reflect new developments.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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