Photos Of Puerto Rico Show "Apocalyptic" Destruction From Hurricanes Irma & Maria
A week after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, the island is struggling to meet even the most basic needs for millions of residents. The power grid has been all but wiped out entirely, causing the whole of Puerto Rico to go mostly dark when photographed at night from space. The only power for the vast majority of Puerto Ricans is coming from generators, and there's hardly enough of those to go around. Photos from Puerto Rico show Hurricane Maria's devastation, from downed telephone poles to decimated neighborhoods, uprooted trees to completely washed out roads.
The timeline to take care of all the damage from Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria is unknown. Where restoring electric power is concerned, that undertaking will likely take several months. Poles and wire will need to be replaced from scratch, and that will be required across the entire island.
Adding to the logistical hurdles are the economic ones. Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy in May, a culminating sign of the dire financial burdens the U.S. territory has been struggling with for two decades.
The photos below give a sense of just how hard Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. For countless Puerto Ricans, the loss has been enormous.
Like other cleanup dilemmas, the logistics of moving tipped over boats are daunting.
It's one of many difficult cleanup jobs that Puerto Rico residents are facing.
A home that has been wholly destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
Many people have lost absolutely everything, including their homes and all their belongings.
Humanitarian aid is falling far short of the need.
As Brian Resnick points out at Vox, the perils of being without power go well beyond doing without a simple light switch. Without electricity, running water can't be pumped into homes. Without electricity, the air conditioning is out for millions in Puerto Rico's tropical weather.
Resnick also points out the vast majority of cell phone towers are down, which means countless residents are isolated from information about when and how rescue efforts will reach them. It also means rescuers don't yet know the extent of the damage — 10 people have been confirmed dead in Maria's wake, and without a forthcoming solution to the electrical power issue, that number is likely to rise.
Emptying out of Puerto Rico is a real possibility.
As American citizens, Puerto Ricans are free to relocate to the continental United States. Given the extensive, catastrophic damage Hurricanes Irma and Maria inflicted on Puerto Rico, a "mass exodus" is a real possibility, according to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.
The likelihood of that happening rises by the minute, as aid to Puerto Ricans in desperate need of water, food, and electricity seems to be stalled. Considering the estimated 4 to 6-month timeline for restoring electrical power to most of the island, it appears almost inevitable that many Puerto Ricans will attempt to relocate.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are currently 10,000 FEMA personnel in Puerto Rico and other impacted islands in the Caribbean, who are bringing and distributing needed supplies, as well as assisting in search and rescue efforts.
One of the most urgent crises is the predicted lack of necessities at hospitals in the coming days. CNN reported having visited several hospitals on the island. Only a few hospitals had a functioning generator, which means those few are full to capacity and beyond. None of the hospitals appear to have running water, and reported to the network that they were two or three days away from being out of basic medical supplies.
While the full extent of the damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria will take several months to compile, one conclusion from the photos coming out of this disaster is certain: the residents of Puerto Rico need as much financial and personnel support as can be spared.