This report was originally published by Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper
Last night, an explosion at a San Juan power plant regressed Puerto Rico’s efforts to restore power to the island five months after Hurricane Maria struck a massive blow. Much of Northern Puerto Rico has suffered another blackout, including the capital city.
The island’s Electric Power Authority said several municipalities were without power, including parts of the capital, San Juan, but they were optimistic it could be restored within a day as they worked to repair a substation that controls voltage…
…It was not immediately known what caused Sunday’s fire, which was quickly extinguished. Officials said the explosion knocked two other substations offline and caused a total loss of 400 megawatts worth of generation. (source)
And we aren’t getting the whole story about these outages. A reader named Jennifer from Manati told me:
What the news ain’t saying is that we actually had three power grids down. The first one was the Cambalache power station in Arecibo. This left the whole north area without power. Then Palo Second station went down. This second power station connects power from the north to the capital. Afterwards, we had an explosion in Monacillos. This one effected mayor hospitals, airport and capital. For some reason the government and news want people to believe that everything is well and running that things are almost back to normal when that ain’t the truth. All you have to do is visit cities outside from the metropolitan area to see the reality we are living.
And even worse, before this explosion, more than a million people were still without power from the Category 4 hurricane that struck the island on Sept. 20, 2017. They’ve been thrown back in time by a hundred years, with no power, no running water, and damaged homes.
This is a prime example of how disasters aren’t just one-time occurrences. They’re very often followed by subsequent disasters.
Think about it. Fires are often followed by floods which are followed by mudslides and sinkholes. (See California for reference.) The tsunami in Japan was followed by a nuclear plant disaster. Hurricane Harvey in Texas had storm surges and floods that caused a chemical plant to explode a few days later. Now, this already-stressed infrastructure has crumbled again under it’s increasing demand.
Power has been restored to a few critical locations.
This is one situation in which living in a more populated area can benefit you. After last night’s explosion, workers were quick to restore power to specific locations.
By late Sunday, electricity workers had been able to restore power to key locations, including the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, as well as the Medical Center. (source)
As well, after Hurricane Maria, the first areas to resume some form of normalcy were the ones with higher population. San Juan saw it’s power restored immediately but people in more remote areas are still waiting. And not just a few people.
Vox estimated that 1.36 million Americans are still without electricity. You’ll see other numbers that say 400,000, but that is counting households, not individuals.
The US Army Corps of Engineers… estimated that Puerto Rico would need 50,000 utility poles and 6,500 miles of cable to restore its power system…
…When an electrical circuit is open or broken, the power doesn’t flow, whether that’s a flashlight or a phone.
It’s a simple concept, but when it happens in the electricity grid — what engineers say is the largest, most complex machine ever built — it quickly becomes a byzantine problem.
With thousands of miles of transmission lines, gigawatts of generation, computers that route power, frequency regulators, and transformers that all serve the constantly fluctuating needs of millions of people, lots of things can go wrong. Generators can shut down. Transformers can explode. Power demand and supply can fall out of balance.
By far the most common cause of blackouts is damage to power lines, which are the most vulnerable part of the electrical grid to storms.
“In a disruption like this, it’s transmission and distribution,” Marsters said. “Damage does occur to generation assets, but those are point specific and you can get those back online in a reasonable time.”
…Puerto Ricans are now desperately trying to connect the main power arteries to individual homes, and some have resorted to their own makeshift repairs, mounting their own utility poles and stringing up low-voltage transmission lines. (source)
But even before Hurricane Maria made landfall, things with the infrastructure were dire.
The power grid in Puerto Rico was in rough shape BEFORE Maria
Even before the hurricane devastated the island, the infrastructure was in terrible shape, a fact underlined by last night’s explosion.
The blast illustrated the challenges of restoring a power grid that was already crumbling before it was devastated by the Category 4 hurricane.
In many cases, power workers are repairing equipment that should have long been replaced but remained online due to the power authority’s yearslong financial crisis. PREPA is worth roughly $4 billion, carries $9 billion in debt and has long been criticized for political patronage and inefficiency. It also struggled with frequent blackouts, including an island-wide outage in September 2016. (source)
Before Maria made landfall, I wrote an article that predicted a long haul to get power restored.
It’s entirely possible that Hurricane Maria will put the island in the dark for quite some time to come, completely changing their way of life. 70,000 people are still without power from their bout with Irma, and much more damage to the utility system is expected. Gov. Rossello said:
“We will not have sustainable electric infrastructure in the near future. We will be bringing in crews from outside of Puerto Rico to attend to these measures.” (source)
Philipe Schoene Roura, the editor of a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based newspaper, Caribbean Business, wrote:
Prepa Executive Director Ricardo Ramos Rodríguez recently said the powerlines carrying electricity in the public corporation’s system are in such a deteriorated state that a strong storm could leave the island without power for weeks.
“To give you a number, if during Hurricane Georges 100 lines went down in 1998, today the same [kind of ] hurricane would bring down 1,000,” the official candidly told Caribbean Business when asked about the possibility of Prepa’s system effectively withstanding the onslaught of a similar storm.
“The lifespan of most of Prepa’s equipment has expired. There is a risk that in light of this dismal infrastructure situation, a large atmospheric event hitting Puerto Rico could wreak havoc because we are talking about a very vulnerable and fragile system at the moment,” Ramos added…
…Francisco Guerrero (a fictitious name to protect his identity), a Prepa field worker for 23 years, said it would take months for Prepa to bring up Puerto Rico’s power system should a hurricane like Harvey strike the island.
The lack of linemen and other technical personnel, as well as a lack of equipment—including replacement utility poles for powerlines and replacement parts—are the issues of greatest concern among public corporation employees, who say they risk their lives working with equipment in poor condition that provides them with little safety.
Guerrero said that today only 580 linemen remain out of the 1,300 who were part of the workforce in previous years—and that’s not counting the upcoming retirement of another 90 linemen. Likewise, he said there are only 300 electrical line testers to serve the entire island.
The source also said that much of Prepa’s equipment dates back to the 1950s—and the more “modern” equipment that is still functional dates from the 1990s; in other words, it’s from the past century.
“If a hurricane like this one [Harvey] hits us, the system is not going to come online, I’d say, in over six months. Right now, the warehouses don’t even have materials. I’m talking about utility poles and other stuff,” Guerrero explained.
“How can you say that you have equipment that dates back to the 1950s and you are not buying parts to repair them? When it’s time for maintenance work, you don’t have the part and you leave things as they are, but there is an entry in the log saying maintenance was done. And yes, it was done, but the most important thing was not done, which was to replace that part,” he added.
Although he did not assign the debacle to former Prepa Chief Restructuring Officer Lisa Donahue’s order to stop buying supplies as the main cause for the lack of materials, he is certain the order was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” (source)
Many people thought it was a ridiculous premise and that power would be up and running within a couple of weeks. But it turns out, that was cognitive dissonance. This situation is all the proof you need to see that things can change overnight.
Go watch this video to see what everyday life is like in Puerto Rico for nearly half a million people.
Do you think things will ever be the same in Puerto Rico?
Have the residents of the island been permanently thrown back into Third World status? Will the power ever be fully restored? And considering they’re Americans too, isn’t it rather embarrassing that we aren’t doing more to aid in the recovery?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
More information about the Puerto Rican crisis:
- Hurricane Maria Could Take Out Power in Puerto Rico Indefinitely and It’s Too Late to Prepare
- The SHTF in Puerto Rico Last Night
- Puerto Rico: What It’s Really Like After the SHTF
- What Life Is Like for a Million People in Puerto Rico Who STILL Don’t Have Power
- VIDEO: What Everyday Life Is Like in Puerto Rico Now
Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.
Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half Price Budget. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]
C’mon Jose, Juan and Pedro – put down the cerveza and get back to pedaling your bicycles. Those little generators ain’t going to turn themselves. All my b.s. aside – I’ve wondered just what the power source is there on Puerto Rico? Oil, gas, diesel, coal …. ? I really don’t know. But if it is any of those – just how the hell do they get the fuel? Correct me if I’m wrong; but, wasn’t PR bankrupt BEFORE the hurricanes? Where’s the money to pay for any of this coming from – now and for the costs of power generation in the future?
Another example that shows us that in the SHTF scenario to come, we must have a means to generate our own power whether that is solar, wind, or hydro for electricity to provide light and heat: if even a little bit.
There are some new mini hydro generators out now for generating power from rivers and streams. Look into it if that would work for you. 🙂
Venezuela? Puerto Rico? California? New York? Baltimore? Detroit? Philadelphia?
Puerto Rico was a failed state even before Hurricane Maria hit. The hurricane would have done the island and the world a favor if it had just blown the whole place into the sea, wiped the place off the face of the planet.
As long as corrupt, greedy, evil professional politicians are allowed to run the world the rest of us are completely f*cked.
It really might be cheaper to send every PR to the mainland and give them $5,000.00 for a head start. Then bulldoze the island and let the tourism industry rebuild it.
Maybe, but you still have to pay for it.
Blame-e, uh, One of our posters, Ketchupondemand, LIVES in Puerto Rico. Ketchup, if you can still get online, love to hear from you, brother.
I don’t know where to begin, but on the west end of the island we didn’t even know about the power outage until reading about in online.
Our power has been back on for about a week now, thanks to a crew of guys from Texas. It went off a few times today but came back on quickly; it happens when we get high winds like the trades blowing today were gusting to about 30mph.
Heartless, my understanding is that the island burns bunker oil to generate power and buys it from..Venezuela!
That’s why we have a great generator and some backup solar which I need to add to..
Why live here?
There is no winter, crops grow year round, offshore fishing, the surfing is good, (water’s warm all the time) and, believe it or not, at least on this end of PR, the people are quite friendly and many are proud that so many Americans choose to live here.
We pay UNDER $50. a year in property taxes for 5 acres.
If I wanted to, I could. Show an Honorable Discharge and get it reduced to $0.
I could go on but there’s a lot to like about living here.
I was concerned that my wife would not like it here but she’s loving it and our life is pretty good.
For now, the roads are clear again but in bad shape but life has returned to near normal.
Government corruption hasn’t changed either.
That Lisa Donahue was paid tens of millions to tell the electric co. things everyone already knew. Major scam.
Thanks, good to know yer ok 🙂
Ketch upon reading the title I thought to myself that I hoped you had enough fuel for the Genny. Stay strong!
About 50 years ago, I worked in the Power Generation Industry. One of our old multi generator locations (I think there were 5 – 120 MW units) burned Bunker ‘C’ Oil to generate the steam to drive the turbines.
It was nasty all the way around. You had to steam heat the Bunker ‘C’ so you could pump it to the burners and the stacks belched black, sooty smoke.
And if you ever got any on your skin, you couldn’t hardly get it off with mineral spirits nor gasoline. Any work clothes were trash after getting ‘tarred’
I doubt the EPA lets anybody burns that stuff anymore in the continental US.
Been scuba/snorkeling for decades, I’ve even been to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the gulf, Central America, the Caribbean etc. The best yet was……wait for it…..Puerto Rico.
Taught my son to snorkel there. We had a blast right on the edge of the big drop, 100 yards from the Big Trench. In twenty to forty feet of water I was the lead on the bottom for about fifteen minutes. Then my son dominated. Whipper-snapper!
The guide warned, pass that marker fifty yards away, and you’re in the Atlantic heading at eight knots toward England. Yeah, we won’t likely find you, assuming the great whites don’t get you first…
I saw a big hurricane on the US East Coast.
I didn’t immediately post on it, it took me time to digest and separate reality from fear.
We are depending on you, give us the straight up facts as soon as you can see the big picture.
This is one of Selco’s superpowers, he could speak of the truth, even when it was in the rear view mirror.
ketchup, good info. But $50 a year in property taxes ??? No wonder there is no infrastructure. Start counting your pennies.
I have a sneaky suspicion that it will change. 🙂
Been praying for your safekeeping thru all this. Please keep us posted! ?
Get rid of the corrupt politicians and arrest… PR has all its needs to be up and running after hurricane… residents want it done for them… while they collect their check… NOT happening, gonna have root out the dishonesty…. Remember when PR screamed and Marines found all those transformes locked in warehouse…. get out there and work to rebuild… even provided all necessary wiring and such to bring PR into 21st Century… stop whining and get it done
Chime in Ketchup! I hope you can. I will be looking to hear from you.
On another note I tried the Frankfurt Arsenal hand priming tool and WOW! That thing is built like a tank. Way stronger and durable than my old LEE autoprime. Worked flawlessly and has adjustable depth too! Comes with a set of 12 shellholders so nothing else to buy for 45 bux. The new lee tool and all others got not so good ratings but this one had good ratings and I can see why. Also if you necksize cases LEE collet dies are 1000X better than RCBS shit. I will NEVER buy RCBS dies again.
So, journalistic integrity is once again to be called into question. Why am I not surprised. More to the point, the author of this of this article, Daisy Luther is full of sh*t.
Still, if the what Braveheart and Ketch etc. are to be believed, I have once again placed my trust in MSM, even when it professes to be alternative. The only thing I feel is dirty.
Apparently, everything I have read and heard about Puerto Rico is wrong. Good. That means we can keep American Taxpayer money at home, where it is both needed, and where it belongs. And Congress won’t be passing anymore disaster relief bills.
There is a guy on this site that posts when he can, is in Puerto Rico. I hope he is well.
This article points out a lot of issues.
I too live on an isolated island with lots of poor people on it
(20% percent of the population, I’m one of them). Bad roads, Bad government, bad cops, too many drugs, and few government services.
There is a Volcano that looks like it is going to go off any day now and may destroy one of our two main towns.
I ask why PR is so bad off, and yet my island is in such better shape to handle disasters.
I keep coming back to culture.
I think that that is a very important and under estimated
part of SHFT survival.
Most people here are Asian, Micronesian, Caucasian, Filipino, Portuguese, and Hawaiian. Census says Caucasians are the majority, but I don’t believe it.
Notice one or two cultures cultures I didn’t mention?
Think about who you live and deal with.
That’s why I moved to where I’m at (besides the beautiful country around here). (90% white, extremely few naggers, a few mexicans.
Get you an asbestos surfboard and ride the lava! 😛
I don’t care about Purteo Rico. Shithole parasite country. The pole shift will make it disappear.
The problem with old guys is they get cranky and stubborn.
And your state of… Alabama? isn’t a sh*thole?
Enjoy that cave when the New Madrid collapses it with you inside! 🙂
Its Arkansas. and Im in the Ozarks. hard rock and high elevation. I would certainly like to be alive when the New Madrid lets go.
Consider how much time the average American teenager spends looking at a video screen of some kind (television, computers, phones, etc). They’re addicted. Picture them without power. Stunned, lost, trying to comprehend the world without the video they are addicted to. Mind-blowing!
Puerto Rico is just a small glimpse of what’s possibly around the corner for mainland, USA. One virulent hacked Virus, Worm, Trojan horse, similar malware from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, or any of our other friends, could wipe out our interconnected grids indefinitely. Especially, if any widespread mayhem results. Definitely a must-read for Christians with families: “Blackout” by Tom Stone
now’s a perfect time to put most of the power grid underground. no poles no storm damage. can’t do it with uhv transmission but local homes and business should be no problem and would save money in the long run. be proactive and ready for the next storm.
the military has hundreds of pieces of equipment that could provide power for many areas. they can convert diesel train engines to provide power. they also have units that would convert sea water to fresh to help with water. we have portable pumping systems that would reduce the load on the grid to supply the water. these all set on bases in the us that are being sold as surplus at auction.