Puerto Rico After Fiona, What Happens Next?

By Kaden Scharnow

On September 18th, 2022, Puerto Rico was struck by Hurricane Fiona. A category-4 storm that left most of the island without power, and thousands of residents stranded by floods and rainwater, where some areas reported getting 30 inches of rainwater. Puerto Rico’s health department reported at least 25 deaths as of September 30th. Experts say Fiona’s damages were almost parallel to Hurricane Maria, a category-5 storm that rocked Puerto Rico in 2017, leaving major damages and hundreds injured. 

The storm cut power to nearly 1.5 million island residents after it hit, leaving families in the dark and without proper drinking water access. After five days, PowerOutage.us, a service that tracks power outages across the U.S, reported about 928,000 households were still in the dark. Residents reported slow response from officials in restoring power, which could be blamed on the U.S government’s slow response to Puerto Rico’s situation. It’s possible this could be from Hurricane Ian hitting the coast of Florida a few weeks after Fiona, and help could’ve been focused on aiding Florida residents instead. 

On Monday, October 3rd, President Joe Biden visited the stricken island to convey his sympathy and provide aid for the residents. They weren’t convinced however, they felt they needed more empathy through reliable energy, adequate healthcare, and long-promised financial relief from the destruction from Hurricane Maria in 2017. Residents are scared and outraged from the lack of aid provided by the Trump Administration in 2017, and Fiona isn’t helping at all. 

The President acknowledged the challenges Puerto Rico faced after this disaster, and admitted that he had no idea when power and water supply would be restored. He asked Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to look into starting a plan to make a new resilient power grid for Puerto Rico. The Queremos Sol Coalition, who’s name means “We Want Solar,” released an open letter proposing a plan for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prioritize locally based renewable energy projects, such as rooftop solar panels and solar powered batteries, instead of fossil fuels. FEMA has set aside $9.5 million dollars for the restoration of Puerto Rico, so residents can hopefully rest assured.

If you’d like to donate to help the residents of Puerto Rico, here are some popular fundraisers:

The Go-Fund-Me:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/together-puerto-rico

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