Puerto Rico, Electricity, and Helplessness

AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

Ever since hurricanes pummeled the Caribbean a few months ago, I’ve felt scared and helpless about Puerto Rico’s electricity situation. How is it possible that a US commonwealth has been without power for 7 weeks?

I had the pleasure of traveling to Puerto Rico 8 years ago with a girlfriend. I also worked closely with someone from Puerto Rico at my last job. Not that I need to have visited a place or know someone from a place to care about it, but it certainly helps.

So in the aftermath of the hurricanes, I wanted to help. I found a charity recommended by a friend from Puerto Rico and donated to it. At the time, it felt good to do something, and I figured the island would be back on its feet soon. This is America, after all. We help each other.

But then the days and weeks past, and Puerto Rico continued to go without power. Current estimates are that 90-95% of Puerto Ricans still have no electricity.

Can you imagine going even a few days without electricity in 2017? It’s inconceivable. Imagine if the electric grid went down in New York for 2 days. It would be a national crisis. Yet Puerto Rico, a US commonwealth, has had no power for 7 weeks.

I’ve been struggling to figure out exactly why Puerto Rico has been without power for so long, and I finally found an article to explain it. I’d highly recommend checking out the video, as it explains a complex, interlocking system of issues in a clear, concise way.

This blog post doesn’t have a tidy conclusion, a lesson, or a call to action. I guess I just had to get off my chest how I’m bewildered and baffled that somehow this issue has fallen out of the headlines, because it’s still happening.

It’s a small thing, but tomorrow my company will be making a donation of $1500 to the Hispanic Federation and their “Unidos” Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, thanks to the inspiration of Jack Eddy at The Cardboard Herald and the generous support of Daniel Halem to our annual charity auction (we’re matching $500 of Daniel’s winning bid for an auction item we donated). It won’t stop me from feeling helpless, but hopefully it’ll do some good for my fellow Americans in Puerto Rico.

What’s the longest you’ve ever been without electricity? Camping trips aside, for me the longest is maybe 12 hours.