November 6, 2017

FEMA: Hurricane Maria Update

One and a half months after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico nearing category 5 strength, the government of Puerto Rico, FEMA and its federal partners have been making progress in one of the nation’s most logistically complex responses in history.

One strong recovery effort was the restoration on communications. Only 82 cell phone towers were operational after the storm, providing cell phone service to 5 percent of the population. A month and a half later, Puerto Rico has 1,261 working cell phone towers, bringing cell phone service to 92.5 percent of Puerto Rico residents.

Out of 68 hospitals, 55 of those are back on the power grid. This is a marked improvement from October 3, when only 9 hospitals had power restored on the grid.

Transportation to and from Puerto Rico has significantly improved. Every airport and port suffered damage and were closed after Maria. Now, all sea ports have re-opened and are accepting commercial delivery and all airports are open with more than 200 commercial flights a day.

Power restoration continues to make steady progress throughout Puerto Rico. Directly after the storm, the entire island was without power. Today, power has been restored to more than
41 percent of the island. On October 1, only 10 generators had been installed. Now, there are
423 generators installed across Puerto Rico by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Safe, potable drinking water has returned to 83 percent of Puerto Rico. On September 27, only 44% of Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) customers had running water.

Private sector recovery is a huge step to improving community stability and sustainability. More than 89 percent of grocery stores are now open, up from the 49 percent open a week and a half after Hurricane Maria hit. On October 1, 70 percent of gas stations were open. Today, more than 84 percent of gas stations are providing fuel to residents of Puerto Rico. There are now
1,160 active ATMs, which allow residents of Puerto Rico direct access to cash, compared to the 114 active ATMs on September 21.

All post offices were closed in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Today, all 122 post offices are operational.

13 Disaster Recovery Centers are open with more opening every day. These DRCs are currently located in Aguadilla, Arecibo, Barranquitas, Camuy, Carolina, Cayey, Guayama, Guaynabo, Humacao, Mayaguez, Ponce, Rio Grande and Toa Baja to survivors by providing information and assisting them to register for assistance.

The first wave of local hires completed their swearing in this week to help with the long recovery. In total, FEMA extended offers to 2,000 Puerto Rico residents to assist in recovery efforts on the Island.

They join the more than 17,000 federal employees representing 35 federal agencies who have assisted in one of the largest disaster responses in U.S. history. The response for Hurricane Maria is historic and continues to be.

This post was originally published here.