Puerto Rican Towns Are Starting To Rebuild Their Own Power Grids After ‘Desperation Set In’

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During Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was literally plunged into darkness after its power grid failed. The disaster relief effort has been slow and will continue for the foreseeable future, but in some parts of Puerto Rico, people have stopped waiting for the the U.S. government to turn the lights back on and have gone to work repairing the electrical grid themselves.

After six months of being without power, locals realized that they needed to act. One homemaker told NBC News, “Desperation set in. We all felt like: ‘What about us? We’re human beings. Enough is enough.'” In San Sebastian, a town in the western mountains, a team of volunteers have restored power to nearly 2,000 homes even though the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has filed a number of complaints:

Power company spokesman Geraldo Quinones declined to comment on the community efforts, saying only that municipalities can help out by clearing roads and debris, identifying places without power and delivering materials in hard-to-reach areas.

But as the number of mayors complaining about slow power restoration has grown, the administration of Gov. Ricardo Rossello allowed municipalities to sign an agreement with the power company to take over repairs if interested and relieve the agency of any responsibility.

In Coamo, Vice Mayor Edgardo Vazquez supports his town of 40,000. “If we don’t do this, we’ll be without power until summer,” he said. As a result, residents have spent long hours yanking power lines from underneath debris and undergrowth and remounting them on wooden posts. Still, at least 30% of Coamo residents remain without power, but it’s one of a dozen Puerto Rican communities who are battling for power restoration on a daily basis.

(Via NBC News)