More than 100,000 people have vacated Puerto Rico, and most of the island’s power gird is still down after hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled the American territory.
Many more people will follow suit and most won’t return if the situation remains dire, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told reporters Sunday. Puerto Rico has a long history of corruption that has mired the island in crippling debt, which has complicated rebuilding efforts.
“Our only transaction to go to the United States is buying an airplane ticket. That’s it. You don’t even need a passport. So if conditions are so dire here the U.S. citizens here are gonna go to where they can get equal conditions,” Rosselló said hoping to goose the Trump administration and Congress into moving quicker.
Puerto Rico is still far from recovered. More than 67 percent of the island is without power, and 20 percent is without clean drinking water. The official death toll on the island stands at about 51, despite unverified reports that nearly 1,000 people have been authorized for cremation since Maria thundered through the area.
The U.S. is spending more than $200 million per day in response to the recent hurricanes and wildfires, FEMA chief Brock Long told a Senate oversight committee earlier this month. He also told the panel that they’ll need more money than the $52 billion in emergency relief allocated so far.
Efforts hit a snag in October when Puerto Rico’s lone power utility company canceled a sketchy $300 million contract with a small energy company from Montana after the island’s governor called the deal a distraction. The cancelation is likely to delay restoring power to the island.
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