NAGUABO – The passage of the Isaías storm to the south of Puerto Rico revealed, once again, the vulnerability of the electrical system and the drinking water infrastructure, at a time when the strongest part of the hurricane season.
The central, south and southwest areas were the most affected by the atmospheric system, causing emergency personnel to try to locate a woman whose car was dragged by a creek located in the nighttime hours. Calvache neighborhood. Likewise, there were incidents of people trapped by floods in Mayagüez and several rivers that escaped its cause, among them the Río Blanco de Naguabo.
The Electric Power Authority (PREPA) reported nearly 400,000 subscribers without the light service out of a total of 1.5 million customers. This, according to Executive Director José Ortiz, was caused by problems in the lines adjacent to trees and other types of plant material shaken by the wind, but also to the posts that collapsed.
The absence of energy, in turn, caused 150,000 clients of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA) to be without the potable water service. The lack of generators in the aqueduct pumps, so that the water could reach some residences, was another of the problems that the government faced.
“We do not have electricity since 2:30 in the morning. Last night there was no light at around 7:00 at night, he came and was around until 10:00 at night. At 11:00 at night he returned and left again at 3:00 in the morning, but so far he has not returned, "narrated the Naguabe merchant Harry Maldonado, yesterday afternoon on the edge of the afternoon.
-¿ What do you say about how light and water has been handled and especially because you are a merchant? He was asked. "I am upset and frustrated. I am not at home so as not to be bored. I have no (electric) plant and I'm here selling what stays cold. This is nothing, but they say they are 'ready', "replied Maldonado, who also had no water service at about 4:00 pm yesterday.
The director of PREPA explained that the most Affected was the eastern area, which ranges from Humacao to Comerío, although its expectation is that today a large part of customers will recover electricity service. “Most of the problems are easy to solve, what I mean is that a lot of the system that is turned off is due to bad weather. The other type of problems we have are branches in the power line or trees that have fallen in the power line, "he said.
He said that the light could take longer in places where vegetation devastated lines or poles, or some pole has fallen because the land has given way.
I live an old problem
To questions from EL VOCERO about the process of tree removal and the reasons for leaving it to Last minute, Ortiz replied that he assumed command of the corporation "10 years behind." This after announcing that PREPA hired personnel to clean vegetation and that it would focus on maintaining transmission lines.
"What I am talking about we are working on six months ago with private companies, what happens is that this was taken 10 years behind schedule that nothing was done. Obviously, you need the material and right now I don't know how many posts will have fallen from the vegetation for this. It will be a few dozen poles, I don't know, I didn't see many, but we have 12,000 poles in inventory, "he said.
He recalled that when Hurricane Maria in 2017 the system took time to re-establish itself due to the damage caused by the vegetation on the towers of transmission. "If we had a much stronger event, obviously it could be that you have more people without the service, but if we focus on the service in the distribution area that is close to the houses and businesses, it is easier to solve," he said. .
It would take three years for the generators
The executive president of the AAA, Doriel Pagán Crespo, could not specify when the water service would be restored. Nor could he justify the reasons for not acting preventively and placing generators in the water pumps.
“We have almost 2,300 installations that would require an emergency generator to operate due to the type of installation it is. Our critical facilities have generation and we held an auction to acquire 216 generators, they are already in Puerto Rico and we are in the process of installing them, "he said.
He further explained that the AAA was organized to separate an operational item every year that will allow them to include -in three years- generators in facilities that they have never had.
Cell towers are affected
Also 14% of cell towers were out of service and 23 institutions Hospitals operated with an electric generator.
On the other hand, approaching 6:00 pm yesterday afternoon, the Housing Department had 72 refugees at the state and municipal level, most of whom were in Guayanilla, Añasco and San Juan.