Oct 12, 2017, 3:43 AM ET

Only 16 percent of Puerto Rico has power 3 weeks after Hurricane Maria


Three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, only 16 percent of Puerto Rico's residents have electricity, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

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But the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said the number is more like 10 percent after an outage at one nuclear plant.

Power continues to be a No. 1 priority for Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Pentagon said about the ongoing disaster relief efforts.

"Power restoration crews continue to arrive on the island. Additional priorities remain hospitals and communication, with an increased focus on isolated regions," the department said, adding, "The governor is implementing a plan to assign the PR National Guard, augmented by the territorial militia, to support local leaders in each of the 78 municipalities to ensure more commodities are pushed to those in need."

While electricity remains scarce, 53 percent of residents now have cellular services and 64 percent have drinking water (though the boiling water order still remains in effect).

There are still 5,742 people in 108 shelters on the island, the governor's office said Wednesday.

The status of the U.S. territory's health care system continues to improve with 65 of 67 hospitals open; however, of those operational hospitals, only a little more than half are connected to the power grid while the rest are relying on generators.

Forty-three of 48 dialysis centers are also operational.

The island's health care system will be put to the test as reports of leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, are beginning to emerge. The governor has repeatedly said that he is concerned about a possible public health emergency in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which has led to the deaths of at least 44 people on the island.

In preparation, the U.S. Navy's floating hospital, the USNS Comfort, arrived in Puerto Rico last week. On Tuesday, the 894-foot-long ship departed San Juan for Aguadilla to conduct medical support operations, the Department of Defense said.

The Comfort is said to have one of the largest trauma centers anywhere in the U.S. and maintains up to 5,000 units of blood at any given time for its medical services.

Additionally, U.S. Northern Command deployed resources on Wednesday that include elements of the 633rd Expeditionary Medical Support hospital, which is scheduled to arrive in Aguadilla on Saturday.

Approximately 13,600 Department of defense personnel are responding to hurricane relief efforts across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

News - Only 16 percent of Puerto Rico has power 3 weeks after Hurricane Maria

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  • Thomas

    In times like this, with multiple disasters, I would love to have a president who would announce a temporary halt to all international aid and to divert that money to domestic aid. I would like a president to publicly declare that his first responsibility is the well being of our own country and our own citizens. After the US has recovered from the multiple disasters, then international aid could be restarted.

    It is harsh, but we should not be helping other nations more than we help our own nation.

  • yeah that

    FEMA was in New Orleans for years after Hurricane Katrina...years. People need clean water, food, shelter, electricity, road repair & health care or more people will die.

  • Jenna

    That's still a lot of people, but at least the number IS getting smaller, albeit much too slowly!

  • unusual

    It will take months for Puerto Rico to get back on it's feet and Trump is already threatening to stop aiding them. What a piece of work he is. Every time I think he can't be any more clueless or despicable, he finds a way.

  • Linda Drag

    Sorry, but based on the catastrophe that PR had, it will take time. This doesn't happen overnight unfortunately. Of course there are no pictures of areas or businesses that may be up and running.

  • Thomas

    16%? That's good enough, time to yank the disaster aid. They can rebuild the island themselves -- Trump

  • notagain

    Trump appealing to his foul base.

  • barry

    The Puerto Rican people are in need of help.People can donate food,water,healthcare supplies,tools,and money to Food For The Poor in Coconut Creek,Florida.This charity helps people in severe need.We take the luxuries we have for granted in Florida.I donated food to help the people of Puerto Rico who have suffered so much.

  • Gargos

    And now Trump says Puerto Rico needs to take over their own recovery efforts.

    So when did Texas start handling Harvey efforts by itself?

    Is Florida going it alone as well after Irma?

    Or... are both of these states still receiving aid from other states, in which it is FAR more easier to travel state to state than it is over the "big ocean water" that surrounds PR?

    This is why this man is unfit for office.

  • Wowza

    "We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!"

    -- Trump quote from Twitter 10/12/2017

  • Aimee

    Trump to Puerto Rico this morning:

    We can't stay forever

    It's been 3 weeks.

    What. A. Guy.

  • Eric

    What a disgrace. He should have had boots on the ground before the storm. He should have had preparations made to immediately bring in aid. He talks about giving loans....not getting AID like like they did for Texass and Florida. These people need our help. These people are AMERICANS!! Why didn't he send thousands of troops immediately? Chainsaws ready to go! We should have had equipment on a ship ready to go. We should have airlifted equipment to clear and restore roads, trucks to bring food and water to all towns? Because they are not WHITE? Oh...and they can't vote in presidential elections? Disgraceful!

  • Kajsa Williams

    I agree that it's appalling and astonishing at this day and age. My reaction to Trump's response is absolute disgust. But it's not a surprise that Puerto Rico's infrastructure could go down like this. Essentially, we count them as "American" because they give us a strategic military position. But we don't treat them like Americans. There's something very BS-y about our relationship with Puerto Rico.

  • BowreguardFoosex


  • notagain

    Why was the Jones Act allowed to go back into effect? Trump ignores lives at stake to pander to business. smh

  • Furrmin The Cat

    No wonder Dotard is so happy about the recovery. It is not working and that makes him and Putin happy.

  • Dicazi

    I didn't realize they had any nuclear power on the island.
    But it sounds like they have to rebuild all the transmission lines.
    Towers thru the mountains and jungle.
    And other power plants were probably damaged as well.
    And how do you safely boil water without electricity?

  • dynamited88

    Hey Grimm, all electric companies are monopolies. Ever hear of widow and orphan stocks? Your private monopolies are run and chartered in the States they reside.

  • dynamited88

    Just think what would happen if these US citizens had representation in Congress! No taxation without representation is my motto.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    Trump is apparently livid that he hasn't gotten praised for his role in three straight hurricanes. What the dimwit doesn't realize is that sending out tweets, most of them insults, and photo ops do not constitute actions worthy of praise.

    Most presidents realize that the best they can hope for is that nothing major goes wrong or some other PR issue. Trump's ridiculous war with the mayor warrants condemnation, not praise, no matter who was fault. Criticizing a mayor, not trained to handle disasters, was another typical Trump blunder.

    Donnie, you deserve criticism not praise, because as usuall you had to make the disasters all about you, instead of the victims.

  • Devliz_Tower

    "Heckva job Brownie!"

  • snake

    Lets all hope Puerto Rico isn't hit with again in the next 6 weeks of hurricane season.

  • dancer92136

    16% maybe only be a liddle power but that is all they really need...right? I mean Trump is doing a great job, and people bigly appreciate the effort.
    Said no one in Puerto Rico

  • 40words

    Think about if any other US president - (R) or (D) - would have done this to one of our territories after a direct Cat 5 hurricane strike. Their own parties would have run them out of office, not to even mention how outraged their opposing parties would be.