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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest