The damage to Puerto Rico after it was slammed over the weekend by Hurricane Fiona is said to be "catastrophic," with landslides, severe flooding, and power getting knocked out for all of the island's residents. The storm is set to continue to dump rain on the US territory on Monday, and even when it ends, there's bad news on the electricity front for the island's 1.3 million customers: It could be some time until it comes back on, reports the New York Times. Although the LUMA power company said electricity had been restored to about 100,000 customers by Monday morning, it warned that bringing it back for everyone could take several days, due to "incredibly challenging" working conditions for staffers.
"The current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hampering our ability to fully assess the situation," the company noted on its website. Per NBC News, the island's already fragile power grid was further hurt by 2017's Hurricane Maria, which hit almost five years ago to the day, and has been limping along ever since. That Category 4 storm devastated Puerto Rico, leaving some areas without electricity for a year. The lack of power has been cited as contributing to most of the nearly 3,000 deaths that resulted, as hospitals and nursing homes were left without electricity. Even now, there are ongoing brownouts and blackouts across Puerto Rico, even when hurricanes aren't barreling through the region.
"We still struggle from the consequences of Maria, and it's kind of difficult knowing we're going to probably have to start over again," one Utuado resident tells NPR of the latest hit by Fiona. The Puerto Rican government has been promising residents since Maria that it will be better prepared the next time a big storm arrives, and as NPR notes, this is the "first real test" of that. Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi is trying to ease residents' minds that they're looking at just days, not months, without power, but he couldn't give an estimate on when electricity would be fully restored. President Biden declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico early Sunday. (Read more Puerto Rico stories.)