Governor Rosselló updates status of utilities and services after passage of Hurricane Irma
(September 8, 2017 - San Juan) Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, announced that 36 hours after Hurricane Irma passed over the Island, utility services had been reestablished to 250 thousand customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and about 150 thousand customers of the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA).
In addition, the governor informed that he has designated a Project Management Organization (PMO) for response and recovery so that all processes of requesting funds can be channeled in a coordinated way and in compliance, to maximize resources and use them more effectively.
The PMO coordinator will be the secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing, Fernando Gil, who will be joined by other officials to make the interagency effort more viable.
PREPA reported that 55% of customers are without service, in comparison to the 74% that were previously without electricity.
PREPA was able to restore service to the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport and the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla.
The utility company has also been able to provide electricity to several hospitals, including the Río Piedras Medical Center.
After the atmospheric phenomenon, 35 public and private hospitals—out of a total of 69—were operating with power generators. At present, 23 hospitals are using generators, which represents 33% of the total.
For its part, PRASA reported that only 20% are without service and that 60 oasis trucks are available throughout the island to bring water to the affected communities.
Governor Rosselló also reported that 82% of the impassable roads have been cleared, of which only 13 remain to be solved.
After the passage of the tropical system through the local area, the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP, per its Spanish acronym) registered 618 incidents due to problems on the Island's roads. At 36 hours after the hurricane, DTOP staff managed to solve 320 for a total of 52%.
DTOP also reported that the Metropolitan Bus Authority (AMA, per its Spanish acronym) and Metro Bus services were reestablished today, except the Piñones route in the municipality of Loíza due to the condition of the road.
In addition, work is being done to restore electricity to the Tren Urbano and to continue offering the service as normal.
The governor indicated that only 51 of the 78 municipalities offered a report of damages. Most of the requests of the municipalities are oasis.
As for the ferry service, the route from Cataño to San Juan is already operational.
The ferries that offer trips to Vieques and Culebra began to transport aid to the islands at 9:00 a. m. today.
It is expected that the transportation of passengers to these islands will resume tomorrow, as determined by the Coast Guard.
The governor—who has worked closely with the Federal Disaster Management Administration (FEMA)—spoke with United States president Donald Trump; vice president Michael Pence; White House chief of staff John Kelly; and secretary of the US Department of Health, Tom Price, to ensure that the emergency in Puerto Rico is recognized at the federal level.
Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA Caribbean Area Division Director, informed that Ceiba will be the headquarters of the Incident Support Base (ISB) to offer assistance to the Virgin Islands. Furthermore, the National Guard is helping FEMA with helicopter transportation to inspect the neighboring islands.
Rosselló continues his inspections throughout Puerto Rico with staff from federal agencies to establish the estimate of damages and the claim of federal funds under the pre-declaration of disaster approved by president Trump.
On the other hand, the governor cautioned citizens regarding the operation of electric power generators.
It is advisable not to insert gas while the generators are on. Electricity must also be disconnected to avoid accidents, since PREPA employees are currently working on service restoration.
It has been reported that several patients have arrived intoxicated to the Río Piedras Medical Center due to gases that emanate from the generators.