HomeNewsArticle

Power Restoration Remains Top Concern In Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

PRINT  |  E-MAIL  |  CONTACT AUTHOR

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2017 — Power restoration remains the No. 1 priority in Hurricane Maria-ravaged U.S. territories Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col Jamie Davis said today.

Teams using equipment work to repair power lines in Puerto Rico.
Prime Power transmission and distribution specialists assigned to Company D, 249th Engineering Battalion, repair power lines in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Oct. 19, 2017. The mission supports those affected by Hurricane Maria. DoD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts
Teams using equipment work to repair power lines in Puerto Rico. Power Repair
Prime Power transmission and distribution specialists assigned to Company D, 249th Engineering Battalion, repair power lines in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Oct. 19, 2017. The mission supports those affected by Hurricane Maria. DoD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts

DoD is responding to the islands with about 11,400 active duty and National Guard service members, he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Energy Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to unite in repairing the fragile Puerto Rico power grid, Davis said.

Troops also are continuing response efforts in the U.S. territories to distribute power generators and commodities such as food and water. Work also is ongoing to expand the distribution network, supply medical support, perform route clearance, provide aviation support, provide planning support to FEMA and supporting the Corps’ repair of the Guajataca Dam in Puerto Rico.

Response to Recovery

DoD is supporting FEMA’s stabilization plan for transition from disaster response to recovery, the spokesman said.

As progress increases and improvements are made in ground lines of communication, FEMA and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico assess the needs for further federal support and explore contracting solutions to mitigate water shortfalls through contracted water trucks to augment existing municipality capabilities, he said. Some municipalities are reporting they have received enough assistance, while others are reporting they have not received enough. FEMA is adjusting distribution to meet the demand.

Progress Underway

-- Of 67 hospitals, 65 are open -- 45 on the power grid; 21 on generator power; and two with unknown status.

-- 26.2 percent  of customers have electricity on the island.

-- 75 percent of customers have drinking water, but boiling orders remain in effect. Thirty-nine of 51 wastewater treatment plants are operational.

-- 87 percent of the population has cellular services available; 84 percent of gas stations are open and so are 119 schools.

-- U.S. Northern Command continues to deliver food, water, sustainment and aviation support capabilities. Eleven U.S. Transportation Command flights with personnel, helicopters and a cargo loader are scheduled for delivery today.

-- DoD’s providing 67 rotary-wing and five fixed-wing aircraft.

-- Logistical base camps have been set up Aguadilla and Roosevelt Roads.

Medical Care

-- The USNS Comfort is providing medical support operations and is transiting to San Juan to support Centro Medico; 196 patients have been seen since Oct. 5. The 14th Combat Support Hospital is fully operational and seeing patients in Humacao. The 633rd Expeditionary Medical Support hospital has attained initial operating capability in Aguadilla. The 285th Area Support Medical Company and 335th AMSC are operating in Ponce and Aguadilla. U.S. Transportation Command is postured to support patient movement to the continental United States with requests from FEMA and Health and Human Services.

-- DoD completed 642 of 802 requested generator pre-installation inspections and has installed 280 units.

-- Progress continues with persistent route clearance assessments and execution by U.S. Army Reserve engineers, Puerto Rico National Guard, and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit personnel.

-- The 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command continues water production and distribution, and is focusing its distribution operations on the interior of Puerto Rico.

-- Defense Logistics Agency efforts are centered on FEMA mass care, feeding support and Corps’ power missions.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the 575th Area Support Medical Company is fully operational and seeing patients in St. Croix, while the 602nd ASMC is seeing patients in St. Thomas.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)