Puerto Rico is 100% without power after Hurricane Maria — here's why that's a huge problem

Business Insider | 9/20/2017 | Erin Brodwin
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The lights are out in Puerto Rico.

The island is 100% without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which has wreaked havoc on much of the region. The Category 4 storm touched down on Puerto Rico around 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday after slamming the Virgin Islands on Tuesday evening.

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Within hours, the island was completely powerless, ABC News reported. Thousands of people are seeking refuge in shelters, and all electricity and phone lines are dead as of 3 p.m. ET.

Power is a key component of any area's infrastructure — it supplies cool air during a heat wave, keeps life-preserving hospital equipment running, and allows people to charge phones that they need to communicate. A region's power infrastructure can tell you a lot about its capacity to withstand a devastating event like a hurricane, according to Vivek Shandas, an urban-planning professor at Portland State University.

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After Hurricane Irma earlier this month lashed Florida and caused power outages throughout the state, eight people trapped in a nursing home died after the facility's backup generator failed to come online to power the air conditioning. That was a failure on the part of the nursing home and the larger region to plan for a natural disaster, Shandas said. Still, it wasn't shocking, since most parts of the US badly needs to update levees, buildings, transit hubs, and power...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Business Insider
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