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Puerto Rico cries out for electricity and water before the onslaught of Hurricane Fiona

Yabucoa- On Monday, the couple of José Vázquez and Carmen Sánchez applauded the arrival of Governor Pedro Pierluisi and part of his work team to the Jaime C. Rodríguez community of this municipality, as it is an event that they had never witnessed in that town.

“They had never come”released the woman, eager to tell her story, during the first tour that the president made to verify the damage caused by Hurricane Fiona.

Sánchez maintained that the chief executive should see with his own eyes – and not through an official – the need of the people given the magnitude of the damage caused by the cyclone.

“You are seeing what the people feel that, perhaps, it is not like sending someone that they were told. He is seeing what we are experiencing here”Sanchez said.

However, the couple did not hide their fear that this official visit would be forgotten and not translated into action.

“I hope that, if he has blood, that if he is human, he knows what we are going through here because, they took us out of here to take us to a ‘bunker’ and they took us out on a ‘flatbed’. My house sucks. We don’t have water or electricity to be able to clean, and my husband uses a machine to be able to sleep”the woman maintained.

“It is that there is no (action). To’ the world passes, to’ the world passes. They come to take photos. Everybody comes, the municipality… everybody comes,” she added.

The governor said at a press conference on Monday that the restoration of the energy service will be “a matter of days,” but he did not venture to provide an estimate of when the entire system would be up and running. Rather, he stressed that the recovery of electricity will be gradual and priority will be given to hospitals, communications, shelters and the plants of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA). “What we have insistently said is that this is going to be a gradual process, and our goal is that, in a matter of days, a large part of the subscribers of LUMA (Energy) and the Authority (of Electric Power) have your electric service. That is the goal. What cannot be answered is when they ask the question ‘come here, and when will it be 100%’. That is impossible to answer because the evaluation of all the damages has not yet been done “he said to questions from this medium.

“But yes, I want that now, what I have asked both to Electric Power and LUMA is that, working as a team, we continue gradually turning on the system and increasing the number of subscribers (with electricity)”, he said.

On Monday, the number of customers whose electricity service had been restored increased by drops. From 6:30 am to just before 5:00 pm, reports from LUMA Energy showed that the number of electric subscribers increased from 100,000 to 115,000.

Power generation was still limited, warned PREPA’s executive director, Joshua Columbuswho specified that on Monday the power generation was 162 megawatts, and over 2,500 megawatts are needed to maintain electricity service throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the slight decrease in rainfall activity and the energization of two of the most important filtration plants of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) caused that, on Monday afternoon, the number of subscribers without drinking water service will drastically decrease to 442,000 clients. The figure reached around 866,000.

The president of the AAA, Doriel Pagán, indicated that, in the afternoon, it was possible to connect the Superaqueduct, which benefits the municipalities of Arecibo, Manatí, Barceloneta, Vega Baja, Vega Alta, Dorado, San Juan, Toa Baja, Carolina and surrounding areas. La Plata also came into office. The rest of the 821,000 clients that this public corporation has continued without service.

During an early press conference, Abner Gómez, manager of Public Safety for LUMA Energy, said that the greatest damage, in terms of transmission and distribution, was in the southern area. “There, it will be, perhaps, the biggest challenge for us. (Although) throughout Puerto Rico there is damage to the electrical network, ”he indicated.

He assured that LUMA Energy has all the necessary equipment and personnel to carry out the recovery work. In addition, he said that they will bring more employees to the island once flights are restored.

Regarding the possibility of activating former PREPA guards to work on the reestablishment of the network, the governor said that it is not necessary at the moment. These PREPA exceladores now work in different government agencies. “As long as LUMA has the resources, that guideline is not necessary”Pierluisi pointed out.

During the tour of towns in the east and south of the island, the governor received a call from Joe Biden, in which the US president let him know that he was attentive to the emergency on the island and told him that he would give him “expedited treatment.” to the request for a major disaster to be declared in Puerto Rico.

In addition, Biden let the chief executive know that between today and tomorrow the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Deanne Criswell, will arrive on the island.

“The president was fully informed of the situation, with specific statistics on how much rain has fallen, how long this event has lasted, the forecast, and very concerned about the situation.”said the governor.

He specified that, until he has a complete evaluation of the damage, he will not be able to apply to Biden for a major disaster. But he anticipated that the damage could exceed “hundreds of millions (of dollars)”.

Meanwhile, the coordinator of FEMA in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Orlando Olivera, said that they were giving support to the government of Puerto Rico. Once the disaster declaration is processed, they could supply aid such as public assistance -for the State and the municipalities- and individual assistance for people affected by the hurricane, it was reported.

For the moment, Pierluisi said that this Tuesday there will be no classes in the public education system and public employees will not have to report to work, except for those who are vital in their respective agencies.

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