SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico authorities said Friday that nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria.
Officials said 55 percent of the nearly 1.5 million customers have power, marking the first time the government has provided that statistic since the Category 4 storm hit on Sept. 20 with winds of up to 154 mph. Officials had previously reported power generation, which stands at nearly 70 percent of pre-storm levels.
“The damage was severe,” power company spokesman Geraldo Quinones told The Associated Press. “A lot of work remains.”
One of Puerto Rico 78 municipalities remains entirely without power, and it’s unclear when some electricity will be restored to the central mountain town of Ciales. Crews this week restored power for the first time to parts of the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, which received the first hit from Maria.
Among those still in the dark is Eileen Cheverez, a 48-year-old respiratory therapist who lives in Morovis, which borders Ciales. She said power was restored to homes around her, but that crews still need to set up a key cable so she can have lights.
“This truly consumes you mentally, emotionally,” she said, adding that seeing homes lit up around her gives her some hope amid the frustration. “It’s like a lack of respect. I know the damage was great, especially in the mountains, but I feel they’ve taken too long.”
Quinones said power remains out across the island equally.