While most of Puerto Rico has seen its electricity grid restored, nearly 15 percent of the island and hundreds of thousands of people still have no power over five months after Hurricane Maria.
But with several large contracts set to expire over the next month and most of the island regaining power, the Army Corps of Engineers has ordered thousands of contractors to return home.
The decision to scale back was met with “indignation” across the island, said Jorge L. González Otero, the mayor of Jayuya, a town in the central part of the island, where about half the residents still lack power. [...]
“Fluor was among the first companies to get here, about a month and a half ago,” Mr. González Otero said, referring to Jayuya. “They said the contract was over, and they left everything half-done.”
“Imagine, I have people here without power for five months who are 80 years old, disabled, bedridden,” he added, “and they were just beginning to see people 50 meters away get their electricity back. They are growing desperate.”
The Army Corps of Engineers now says restoring power to the remaining parts of the island will take "a few more months" which means some people on the island will have gone a full eight months without electricity before it's restored. At least 1,000 contractors have left the island in the last two weeks and contracts for the largest contractors are set to expire in the first week of April.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials says it's natural to begin "ramping down" now that most of the work on the island has been completed and, while I'm sure that's true, I wouldn't worry if it were said by anyone else.
The Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria has been its own disaster from the beginning and I personally wouldn't be surprised if the "few months" outlined by the Corps becomes five or even seven months. I wouldn't be surprised if some areas of the island are without electricity for a year.