Martha Thompson, Oxfam America’s Program Coordinator for the Puerto Rico response said:
“It’s an outrage that exactly seven months since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Ricans are literally still left in the dark. Just last week, much of San Juan lost power due to a single fallen tree. This is unacceptable. These blackouts are an unfortunate and tragic reminder of the urgent need to build a better, more resilient Puerto Rico.
The federal government has not appropriated adequate funds to repair the system, leaving it vulnerable to future blackouts. Oxfam call on Congress to appropriate the necessary disaster relief funds required to rebuild and improve Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure, which is aging, fragile, and in urgent need of repair.
We’re also concerned that the island is woefully underprepared for the next hurricane season, beginning in just six weeks. While electricity has been mostly restored since Wednesday’s blackout, to this day many rural communities across the island still have not had consistent electricity since Hurricane Irma, even before Hurricane Maria hit.
Until the US government makes a serious commitment to rebuilding Puerto Rico, we are unfortunately bound to see more outages and continued disruptions to daily life. The next hurricane season will inevitably lead to another round of destruction, with the everyday American citizens of Puerto Rico being the ones being left to suffer."