Oct 10, 2017 - Science

The big picture on Puerto Rico's recovery

Efrain Diaz Figueroa spends the afternoon sitting on a chair next to the remains of the house of his sister destroyed by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo: Ramon Espinosa / AP

Twenty days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the island is still far from recovered. 84% of the island is without power, 37% is without potable water, and 14% of grocery stores are still closed.

The official death toll rose to 43 Tuesday, according to a a government official, as islanders continue to suffer from infections, bad road conditions and other consequences of the storm. Meanwhile, the actual tally is expected to be much higher, as several smaller Puerto Rican communities have been unable to communicate their losses. Directors of funeral homes located farther from the capital told BuzzFeed that they have received significantly more bodies than the "certified" tally the government has released.

The latest on what we know from Puerto Rico, per FEMA and the PR government site:

  • Boots on the ground: More than 19,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members, including more than 1,400 FEMA personnel, are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • State help: 22 U.S. states are supporting 83 requests for mutual aid in PR. 15 states are supporting 38 requests for mutual aid in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Electricity: 16% of the island has power, and roughly 33% of cell towers have been restored.
  • Food: Approximately 86% of grocery stores are open, up from 77% Monday.
  • Gas: Roughly 78% of retail gas stations are operational (860 of 1,100).
  • Shelter: 6,067 people remain in shelters across the island. 112 shelters are open and operating.
  • Transportation: Only 392 miles of Puerto Rico's 5,073 miles of roads are open. All commercial airports and federally maintained ports are open or open with restrictions.
  • Water and waste: Approximately 63% of Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) customers have potable water, and additional water is being provided by bottled and bulk water. 58% of waste water treatment plants are working on generator power.
  • Medical care: All hospitals are open and operating, but only 25 are working with electricity. The others remain on backup power systems, and most are without air conditioning. 96% of Dialysis Centers are open, but several are still running on generators.
  • Banks: 56% of bank branches (175 of 313) are open and operating.

Go deeper: Puerto Rico's Health Care Is in Dire Condition (N.Y. Times); Emergency aid distribution stalled in Puerto Rico (Axios); Puerto Rico's $74 Billion Burden Left It Helpless (Bloomberg).

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