It’s been almost a month since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, knocking the island’s power grid entirely offline.
And it will be at least another two months until most of the U.S. territory sees electric service restored to 95 percent of the island by Dec. 15.
30 % of the island is sheduled to be electrified by the end of October, 50 percent by mid-November, and 80 percent by Dec. 1. As of Friday, only 17 percent of Puerto Rico had power.
Vital services like water purification, hospitals, and communication networks rely on a steady power supply. Other basic services, like sewage treatment and food preservation, become impossible without electricity, as do more modern needs like credit cards, ATMs, and the internet.
The official death toll has ticked up to 48 over the weekend, after three people suffered medical emergencies and were unable to access medical care. But the real death toll is likely far higher, potentially in the hundreds.
Meanwhile, generators are powering much of Puerto Rico’s critical infrastructure, making fuel shortages a matter of life and death. A number of solar power providers have rushed to aid the island and want to prove solar can be a long-term solution there.