President Donald Trump sent a stern warning to Puerto Rico on Thursday morning via Twitter. “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever,” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s message is clear: Our work here is (almost) done.
That tweet from Trump seems to ignore that:
- Puerto Rico is a part of the US
- Trump never issued any similar ultimatum to Texas or Florida in the wake of hurricanes that crippled those states
- Vice President Mike Pence said in Puerto Rico last week that “We will be here for the long haul”
Let’s put aside those obvious contradictions and assess whether Trump’s claims that significant progress is being made in Puerto Rico is born out by the numbers.
Below, a series of data points, gathered from Department of Energy situation reports, Federal Communications Commission status report and status.pr, a website that FEMA has pointed people to track the progress of the recovery.
As you can see, the situation in Puerto Rico remains dire.
1. A whopping 83% of electricity customers are still without power
Yesterday, Puerto Rico faced even worse news about its electrical grid. “At least 10.6% of customers have had power restored, which is a decrease from yesterday due to a suspected fault along a transmission line in San Juan,” according to Wednesday’s Department of Energy Situation report on the Maria recovery. Meaning, almost 90% of Puerto Ricans were without power yesterday, down 35% from the previous day. At peak, 1.4 million customers did not have power in the 24-hour period that included the outage, according to the report.
This morning’s status update shows that there has been some recovery. Status.pr says 17% of customers now have power. But progress has been insanely slow. A week ago, 9.2% of customers had power, meaning only an 8 percentage point improvement has been made in a week, with 83% to go.
According to Department of Energy reports, for eight days after the storm, the estimate was that 100% of the island was without power.
2. Vast majority of cell antennas are still knocked out
The FCC just gave Google an experimental license to fly its “Loon” balloons over Puerto Rico to help with service.
The island needs it.
A meager 22% of cell service antennas are operational, up from 12% a week ago, according to the FCC’s latest report on the island from October 11th. A stunning 15 of Puerto Rico’s 78 counties have 100% of their cell sites down. (As of a 10/11 11am status update)
“We need to take innovative approaches to help restore connectivity on the island,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Saturday.
3. Other businesses and services are returning faster
Here’s a third, less depressing chart. Puerto Rico is still struggling to return to normal but has made much more progress with other business and service operations.
87% of supermarkets are operating, up from 49% in late September and 65% in early October. (As of 10/12 status update)
79% of gas stations are open, up from 69% in early October. (As of 10/12 status update)
61% of bank branches are open, up from 49% in earlier in October. (As of 10/12 status update)