How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

September 29, 2017

A hurricane called Maria, one of many storms around the world this month, stormed through the island of Puerto Rico last week. Maria did something that nobody was prepared for: it left the entire island without electricity, and the latest estimates conclude that it will take six months before electricity is restored everywhere. Could you imagine not having electricity for that long? How did this happen?

The intensity of the winds and rain from Hurricane Maria downed a lot of the transmission lines that distribute power to different parts of the island. When a storm damages these lines, it can cut out power to every house that depends on it. So why can’t the power companies just rebuild the power lines? Well, these power lines took decades to build, and they run for hundreds of miles through mountains and even underground. The biggest concern for the island is how to cope without full electricity for months. For starters, it is difficult to deliver aid. With seaports and airports relying solely on electricity to operate, food and other supplies can’t get transported to where it needs to go. Lack of power also impacts important places like hospitals and schools. Right now the government is evaluating the extent of the damages that Maria caused and how long it will take before power is restored.

Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico.(Photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos/PRNG-PAO)

The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, has asked for financial aid to support the island as it rebuilds itself. He pointed out that Puerto Rico is part of the United States and requires aid just like any other state when hit by a storm.

Wait, let’s pause for a minute. Why did Governor Rossello mention that? Well, not many people in the United States know that Puerto Rico is actually a US territory, so even though they might have different laws than some states, Puerto Rican citizens are Americans.


The U.S. military has been deployed to bring aid to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been assigned to help rebuild its infrastructure, which include power and gas lines. We’ll continue to track Puerto Rico’s recovery process.