This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Tropical Storm Dorian skirted Puerto Rico’s western corner on Wednesday, before heading north towards Florida, where it is expected to develop into a Category 3 hurricane. While the storm spared Puerto Rico of much damage, it raised attention to how the island is still in recovery mode — and ill-equipped for another natural disaster.
Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico in early September 2017. Two weeks later, on September 20, Hurricane Maria made landfall in the municipality of Yabucoa. When the debris settled, almost 3,000 people were dead, thousands more were displaced, and the island’s already aging infrastructure was severely weakened. The island’s antiquated power grid, which had been neglected for years, took an especially hard blow. Immediately after the storm, at least 1.5 million people were left without electricity, some for almost a year, casting the island into the longest blackout in U.S. history.
Efforts to rebuild the island have been slow, stymied by a mixture of colonial exploitation, government bureaucracy, partisan politics,... Read more