Puerto Rico: Hurricane destroyed wind, solar. Plus five months on, 15% still blacked out.

Puerto Rico: Hurricane destroyed wind, solar. Plus five months on, 15% still blacked out:

In South Australia, when the lights went out, Olympic Dam took two entire weeks to get operational again. Spare a thought for those in Puerto Rico. Right now, five months later, and one in 6 still don’t have electricity. That’s five full months of blackout –  surviving off candles, car batteries, small diesels and whatever anyone can get. Some people will be waiting til May. Though that’s “95%” connected, so still no joy or lights, for one in 20 people. How do you put a roof back on your house when you can’t even power up your drill? (See The Atlantics photo montage from January 27th to get some idea of what life is like, months after the storm).

Puerto Rico has 3.6 million people, was poor and corrupt, with failing infrastructure and huge debts before Hurricane Maria hit on Sept 20th. The government has a budget of $10b per year, but owes more than $70b. The hurricane wiped out 80% of the infrastructure, completely trashing some of the solar and wind “farms”, and bringing down transmission lines.

H/t reader kevin a.

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Trump Administration Declares Puerto Rico Too Rich for Relief Money

Trump Administration Declares Puerto Rico Too Rich for Relief Money:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the US Department of the Treasury informed the Puerto Rican government on January 9, 2018 that it will not receive a promised $4.9 billion loan for Hurricane Maria rebuilding efforts, after finding that the commonwealth had a cash balance of over $8.5 billion.

According to David Dayen of the Intercept, Puerto Rico had $1.7 billion for day-to-day operations as of December 29, 2017, along with $6.875 billion in other accounts. It will receive the loan from the Community Disaster Loans Program when this money decreases further. The commonwealth is the only US territory affected by disaster that is being means-tested, as well as the only territory that will receive a loan instead of a grant.

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Shocking Video Shows What Everyday Life Is Like In Puerto Rico Now

Shocking Video Shows What Everyday Life Is Like In Puerto Rico Now:

In Puerto Rico, everything has changed since Hurricane Maria struck nearly 3 months ago.

Many people have no running water. And if they do, it can’t be consumed without boiling.

There’s no electricity in many regions.

Supplies are scarce.

I’ve written about the SHTF aftermath in Puerto Rico, both the day after the storm,  a week after, and a couple of months later. But while there is a lot of good information in all those articles, it’s just words on a page.

The video below brings it to life. This is what life looks like for people who have just watched everything be turned upside down by Mother Nature.

H/t reader squodgy:

“The same corruption & failure of the Aid system happened in Haiti.

Common denominator…democratic US Gov.”

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What Life Is Like For A Million People In Puerto Rico Who Still Don’t Have Power

What Life Is Like For A Million People In Puerto Rico Who Still Don’t Have Power:

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

If you ever wondered what it would look like if the grid collapsed here on the mainland, the island of Puerto Rico is a tragic, real-life case study.

These stories show us what life is like for more than a million people who STILL don’t have power and running water nearly 3 months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated their communities.

According to a website showing the status of utilities on the island, four months after two hurricanes wrought havoc, 32% of Puerto Ricans are still without power and nearly 10% are still without running water. However, even those who have running water must boil it.

But statistics don’t tell the real story.

At first, it was a war zone.

In the first days after the grid went down, chaos ruled. I vetted as many of the stories as I could and concluded:

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Puerto Rico Doctors Practice Medicine In ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ Conditions – “It’s A Mad Max Situation”

Puerto Rico Doctors Practice Medicine In ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ Conditions:

Nearly four weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, doctors are experiencing “post-apocalyptic” conditions. The reality doctors in Puerto Rico are facing is similar to that from a dystopian novel.

Doctors are conducting surgical procedures in sweltering 95-degree heat, experience malfunctioning X-ray machines, and have seen medications literally melting. “We’re practicing disaster medicine in real life,” said Dr. William Kotler, a senior resident in emergency medicine at Florida Hospital in Orlando, who spent two weeks volunteering on the island earlier this month. “We improvise if we have to, with very little resources.”

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Fed’s Dudley Sent Puerto Rico A “Plane Loaded With Cash”

“We thought the cash was going to be a problem… [but] the magnitude of this is something we haven’t experienced…”

Fed’s Dudley Sent Puerto Rico A “Plane Loaded With Cash”:

In the days following Hurricane Maria’s devastating blow to Puerto Rico, air traffic on the island came to a complete standstill as airport damage prevented commercial pilots from servicing the island.  That said, with the island economy grinding to a halt, San Juan International apparently managed to find a way to accept one very important plane…a “jet loaded with an undisclosed amount of cash” from New York Fed president William Dudley.  Per Bloomberg:

Less than a week into the massive blackout that followed Hurricane Maria and essentially turned Puerto Rico into a cash-only economy, one top local banker became so concerned about the supply of bills that he called the Federal Reserve.

William Dudley, the New York Fed president, put the word out within minutes, and ultimately a jet loaded with an undisclosed amount of cash landed on the stricken island, according to Richard Carrion, the Popular Inc. executive chairman who made the call. He and Chief Executive Officer Ignacio Alvarez reflected on the chaotic early days of the crisis in an interview Friday at their office in San Juan’s Hato Rey financial district.

“We thought the cash was going to be a problem,” said Carrion, 64, whose bank is the biggest in Puerto Rico by deposits. “The magnitude of this is something we haven’t experienced.” Suzanne Elio, a New York Fed spokeswoman, declined to comment on the money shipment.

The executives described corporate clients’ urgent requests for hundreds of thousands in cash to meet payrolls, and the challenge of finding enough armored cars to satisfy endless demand at ATMs. Such were the days after Maria devastated the U.S. territory last month, killing 39 people, crushing buildings and wiping out the island’s energy grid. As early as the day after the storm, the Fed began working to get money onto the island, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be named discussing the Fed’s preparations.

Of course, as we’ve noted before, nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20th, some 90% of the island is still without power and the resulting damage to the local economy will undoubtedly have long-lasting effects.

Nine of ten Puerto Ricans are still without power, half the island has no drinking water, schools are closed, there’s a government-mandated curfew — and businesses everywhere are trying to cope. At Popular, half of branches remained shuttered Friday, as did two-thirds of ATMs.

Alvarez, 58, is a Harvard Law School graduate who took over as Popular’s CEO earlier this year. Previously, the post was held by Carrion, whose family has helped run the firm for generations. Alvarez said that stores have closed and workers have been laid off as a result of the storm, which is a worry for the bank.

“More than property damage to our collateral, which is not going to be that great, is the economic disruption caused by the hurricane,” he said.

The lack of power was a nightmare for dialysis and cancer patients, as well as the elderly trapped in condominiums without air conditioning. The blackout also means that this corner of credit-card dependent America is relearning how to function almost entirely in cash. When some generator-powered ATMs finally opened, lines stretched hours long, with people camping out in beach chairs and holding umbrellas against the sun.

Popular could face a downgrade by Fitch Ratings on concerns that the storm’s after-effects may harm business. Its stock has dropped 11 percent since the storm in New York trading, and is down 19 percent for the year.

Meanwhile, the even larger threat to the Puerto Rican economy is that residents will simply decide they’ve had enough of the island life, and the constant threat of devastating hurricanes that comes along with it, and jump ship to the mainland.  As Bloomberg notes, the island already loses roughly 2% of its population a year to the continental United States but, with many people being evacuated in the days following September 20th, it’s very likely that 2017 will see a much larger exodus.

A major concern, both men agreed, was the prospect of a mass exodus to the U.S. mainland. Governor Ricardo Rossello has warned that, if the aid package being debated in Washington falls short, “millions” could leave the island. The population has already been shrinking 2 percent annually for three years running on the island of 3.4 million, due in large part to a decade-long economic lull.

“There is a danger” of flight, Carrion said. “I don’t need a visa. I don’t need anything to go there. I have relatives in Orlando, or I have relatives in Houston, or I have relatives in New Jersey.”

“Everybody has relatives in the states,” said Alvarez, cutting him off.

“Yeah, everybody,” Carrion said. “There’s more Puerto Ricans in the continental U.S. than here. So everybody’s got a relative.”

…all of which has Democrats laying out the welcome mats in the key swing state of Florida…never let a good crisis go to waste

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Gov. Rick Scott Declares State Of Emergency As 100,000s Of Puerto Ricans Flee To Florida

Gov. Rick Scott Declares State Of Emergency As 100,000s Of Puerto Ricans Flee To Florida:

As mayors of cities with large Puerto Rican populations continue to advocate for federal assistance to help with the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who are expected to temporarily seek shelter with friends and families in the US, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Florida, allowing state agencies to take extraordinary measures to assist families that will soon be arriving in droves to cities like Orlando and Miami, both of which feature large Puerto Rican populations.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Scott announced that disaster relief centers will be set up at Orlando International Airport and in Miami to help those seeking refuge in Florida.

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US Cities Demand Federal Help As They Brace For Influx Of 100,000s Of Puerto Ricans

US Cities Demand Federal Help As They Brace For Influx Of 100,000s Of Puerto Ricans: 

As the disaster-relief effort enters its second week, air traffic is slowly resuming, which means hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will likely flee the devastated island to stay with friends and relatives in the continental US as they wait for FEMA to rebuild roads, repair power grids and and revive the island’s communications infrastructure – a process that could take months, if not longer.

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“What Are We Going To Do?” Puerto Rico In Chaos As Cash Runs Out

“What Are We Going To Do?” Puerto Rico In Chaos As Cash Runs Out:

Most Puerto Ricans haven’t had access to electricity, cell service or financial services for nearly two weeks now. And as we reported yesterday, residents who didn’t stockpile enough cash have been struggling after Hurricane Maria essentially knocked the island’s economy into the 1950s, forcing some to forgo essential supplies – or worse – resort to looting. For those who do have access to working ATMs and banks, long lines have sapped cash reserves as the country has effectively reverted to a “cash only” economy.

Those whose access to cash has been limited – or cut off entirely – are becoming desperate as they start to wonder how they will begin the process of rebuilding their trashed homes – or even where their next meal will come from. As Reuters reports, cash has become just one of many scarce resources on the island (food, medical supplies and gas are also in incredibly short supply).

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Hurricane Maria Floods San Juan, Knocks Out Power Across Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria Floods San Juan, Knocks Out Power Across Puerto Rico:

Even after weakening to a category 4 storm shortly before making landfall along the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria has caused unprecedented devastation to the cash-strapped island, knocking out electricity for all residents…

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Trump Approves Puerto Rico Emergency Declaration As Maria Strengthens Into “Potentially Catastrophic” Cat-5 Hurricane

Trump Approves Puerto Rico Emergency Declaration As Maria Strengthens Into “Potentially Catastrophic” Cat-5 Hurricane:

Update: The National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Maria has just strengthened to a “potentially catastrophic” Category-5 Storm with winds expected over 160mph.

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Puerto Rico Files For Bankruptcy Protection In Largest Ever US Municipal Debt Restructuring

Puerto Rico Files For Bankruptcy Protection In Largest Ever US Municipal Debt Restructuring:

Puerto Rico will file for bankruptcy protection, Gov. Rosselló said on Wednesday, setting up a showdown with Wall Street firms owed billions of dollars in the largest-ever U.S. municipal debt restructuring.

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Puerto Rico Blackout Enters Second Day – Entire Island Of 3.5 Million People Without Power

Puerto Rico Blackout Enters Second Day – Entire Island Of 3.5 Million People Without Power:

The 3.5 million people of Puerto Rico are entering their second day with no power after a substation fire knocked out service to the entire island.   The power outage has left schools scrambling to cancel classes and public hospitals forced to cancel surgeries.

Perhaps even worse, the outage caused numerous fires across the island as a result of malfunctioning generators, including at the upscale Vanderbilt hotel in the popular tourist area of Condado and at the mayor’s office in the northern coastal town of Catano.

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Puerto Rico Defaults On $2 Billion In Debt Payments

PR flag

Puerto Rico Defaults On $2 Billion In Debt Payments:

As expected, Puerto Rico will default on about $2 billion in debt payments Friday, including $780 million in constitutionally-backed general obligation bonds, as governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has issued an executive order authorizing the suspension of payments. In addition, Garcia Padilla also declared states of emergency at the island’s biggest public pension – the Commonwealth’s Employee Retirement System – which is more than 99% underfunded, as well as the University of Puerto Rico and other agencies Reuters reports. The default will mark the first time a US territory has failed to pay on its general obligation bonds.

Under these circumstances, these executive orders protect the limited resources available to the agencies listed in these orders and prevents that these can be seized by creditors, leaving Puerto Ricans without basic services,” Garcia Padilla’s administration said in a statement.

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Puerto Rico To Default On July 1 After Senate Passes Bailout Bill

Puerto Rico To Default On July 1 After Senate Passes Bailout Bill:

Moments ago, following the overwhelming passage of a Puerto Rico bailout bill by the US House of Representatives, Congress found itself on the edge of sending the PR debt relief Bill for the president signature, when the Senate, in a 68-32 vote, likewise passed the measure. This makes final passage of the legislation a virtual certainty as sixty votes were needed to clear the procedural hurdle, but only a majority vote is necessary on final passage.

The legislation allows Puerto Rico to restructure $70 billion in debt and establish an outside control board to steer the island’s troubled finances. President Obama supports the package, and is expected to quickly sign it.

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No more ‘US & UN trickery’: Bankrupt Puerto Ricans flood San Juan demanding decolonization

No more ‘US & UN trickery’: Bankrupt Puerto Ricans flood San Juan demanding decolonization:

Ahead of next week’s visit by the UN decolonization committee and buried in economic debt, some 500 activists with the Puerto Rico independence movement took to the streets of Old San Juan to demand freedom from US rule.

There were two purposes to the Saturday march, according to Liliana Laboy, one of the members of the Independentista Roundtable, speaking to EFE: “To insist that it’s time to start the decolonization process that will bring us independence, and to support the hearings this Monday.”

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