Hurricane Irma has left half of Puerto Rico without power after tearing a devastating path through several Caribbean islands and killing at least ten people, according to reports from local officials.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters that officials are assessing damage to the island and bringing back electricity to its hardest hit areas. Irma stayed mostly out in the ocean and only skirted the small Caribbean island, but the hurricane’s damage was still enough to rock Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the island’s sole provider of electricity, warned Tuesday night that parts of the U.S. territory could be without power for half a year while the government prepares adequate shelter for more than 62,000 people.
The island has had to deal with debilitating economic chaos for the past decade, meaning Irma could thrust Puerto Rico and its crumbling infrastructure into the dark ages, authorities warned earlier in the week. Some of the island’ citizens believe Hurricane Hugo might have been more destructive than Irma.
“[T]his is a lot better than it was predicted to be … I lived through Hurricane Hugo [in 1989] and that was far, far worse. That was horrible. This is nothing compared to that,” Charlyn Gaztambide Janer, who lives in one of the island’s small offshoot communities, told NBC News reporters Thursday.
Irma, which is widely considered one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in history, pummeled Barbuda and left thousands homeless in parts of St. Bart and St. Martin, with local officials reporting Thursday that nearly 95 percent of the those islands have been completely destroyed.
“It is an enormous disaster … I am in shock,” Daniel Gibbs, chairman of a local council on St. Martin, told reporters Thursday.
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