Ana Campoy (Quartz) writes that Puerto Rico is still a disaster zone, three weeks after Hurricane Maria:
Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. Three weeks later, many residents still live like it’s the day after the storm made landfall. More than 90% of the island remains without electricity, and roughly a third without water service, according to local authorities. Nearly half of the US territory’s population is still unable to make calls, with cell and landline services still down. And in some areas, conditions are much worse than those figures suggest. [. . .]
Road blockages remain a big problem in getting help to people in Puerto Rico’s interior, which means places like Orcovis. Only 400 miles of the territory’s 5,000 miles of roads are open, and they’re mostly in the outer ring of the island, according to the latest assessment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. [. . .]
The lack of electricity is also complicating another crucial service: running water. Generators are being used to pump and treat water, but they rely on fuel, another rare commodity (see below.)
Yet, in some places, like the municipality of Comerío, no amount of fuel would solve the problem. Its mayor told Univisión on Oct. 10 that the water-waste treatment plant has collapsed, polluting the lake that supplies drinking water to the community. The water utility says restoring service will take months. [. . .]
Contaminated water is adding stress to Puerto Rico’s already overstretched healthcare system. There have been several cases of Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread through cattle urine that can result in death. Out of the roughly 70 hospitals operating in the island, 28 are doing so without electricity, according to government figures.
Without electricity, diesel has become the lifeblood of the island. Demand for the fuel has soared, and suppliers are struggling to fulfill it. Informal resellers are gouging prices (Spanish), and desperate Puerto Ricans are paying them—those who can afford it.