Puerto Rico faces second longest blackout ever

Puerto Rico experienced an island-wide power outage on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, leaving the entire island without electricity.

On September 20, 2017, category four Hurricane Maria slammed the island, bringing total darkness within the first few hours of the storm. After months and months of repairing, about 96 percent of people had their power restored.

After the electrical grid was destroyed seven months ago, an estimated $2.5 billion was spent to repair it.

However, an excavator, operated by D. Grimm, a subcontractor for Cobra Acquisitions, was working near a fallen 140-foot transmission tower on the southern part of the island and got too close to a high-voltage line. The electrical fault knocked out power to nearly every home and business across the the island.

Traffic on the roads was at a stand still as soon as the incident occurred. Schools, shopping centers and business offices closed down as well. The city’s main hospital and international airport were forced to switch to backup generators.

Freshman Jiya Narwal says, “I’ve visited Puerto Rico twice with my family and I remember hearing stories about past blackouts. Even in the newspapers, there were advertisements for generators and there were always weather updates on the television.”

Typhoon Haiyan is ranked as the longest power outage in history, which tore through the Philippines in 2013. Hurricane Maria trails behind as a close second. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people have been without electricity since September 2017.

Former Major League baseball player and ESPN commentator Eduardo Perez, who was hosting a news conference in Puerto Rico shortly after the accident, says, “Welcome to Puerto Rico, this is what we know as life.”

U.S. soldiers are working to fix the transporters and voltage lines on the island to bring back the power as soon as possible. New services are also being hired to help fix the current situation.

Freshman Aidan Judge says, “I couldn’t imagine living in a place where it is common to be left days or sometimes months without power. It must wear you down psychologically. I am lucky enough to live in an area where hurricanes are uncommon and our power sources aren’t vulnerable to much damage.”

The subcontractor involved in Wednesday’s failures was fired and will no longer be helping with future restoration efforts. The restoration process for the power grid is up in the air, and various energy experts suggest not installing new grid modernization.

Estimates of the total cost of Puerto Rico’s recovery from Maria have ranged from $40 billion to $95 billion. Hurricane season starts on June 1, and at the moment, the island is not nearly prepared to face future storms.

Have you ever experienced a long period of electricity loss from a hurricane? What was it like?

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