Puerto Rico 1 month after Hurricane Maria

Eighty-one percent of Puerto Rico remains blacked out one month after Maria struck. Clean water for drinking, cooking and bathing is scarce, too.

Puerto Ricans’ main obstacle to getting back to some semblance of normality is the slowness of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in getting the power grid back up and running.

The lack of power has paralyzed a key industry — pharmaceutical production — and most businesses including restaurants are closed or operating at great cost through the use of diesel powered generators.

This nightmare comes about a year after the U.S. government established an external fiscal control board for the island after it declared bankruptcy because of 73 billion dollars in debt.

Economist Joaquin Villamil told AFP that damage from Hurricane Maria is estimated at 20 billion dollars — four times that of Hurricane Georges in 1998, when measured in 2016 dollars.

Villamil said reconstruction money provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and from insurance companies will have a positive impact on the island’s economy in the second half of fiscal 2018 and in fiscal 2019, but this boost will just be temporary.

“From an economic point of view there is not much net gain,” said Villamil, who works for a consulting firm called Estudios Tecnicos.

He said the economy has been shrinking since 2006 and Maria will delay any prospect of recovery.

It will take at least until 2026 to get back to the GDP level of 2006, he added.

Making things worse, people are leaving the island for the mainland U.S. Forecasts are that the population now at 3.4 million will go down to 3.1 million or even less by 2026, said Villamil.

The government of Florida estimates that since October 3 — the day a state of emergency to deal with an influx of Puerto Ricans was declared — more than 36,000 people from the island have poured in. (AFP)

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Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

A woman stands on an overturned refrigerator while trying to get a mobile phone signal, after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Naguabo, Puerto Rico

Cars drive under a partially collapsed utility pole, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in September, in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Oct. 20, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Emilia Santos washes her hair with mountain spring water coming through a pipe, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in September, in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Corozal, Puerto Rico

People collect mountain spring water, after Hurricane Maria hit the island, in Corozal, Puerto Rico, Oct. 17, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Aurea Esther Gonzalez holds a bible dirty with mud, after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Alta, Puerto Rico

Cynthia Calderon walks past some furniture and other belongings she could salvage, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in September, in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Jose Taveras sorts things in the remains of his home, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in September, in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Las Piedras, Puerto Rico

Victims of Hurricane Maria line up to receive supplies from members of the U.S. military, in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo: Thais Llorca/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

San Juan, Puerto Rico

A brigade from the Electric Power Authority repairs distribution lines damaged by Hurricane Maria in the Cantera community of San Juan, Puerto Rico on Oct. 19, 2017. The storm struck after the Authority had filed for bankruptcy in July, put off maintenance and had finished dealing with outages from Hurricane Irma. (Photo: Carlos Giusti/AP)

Utuado, Puerto Rico

A woman (R) washes clothes with water funneled from a mountain stream nearly one month after Hurricane Maria struck on Oct.19, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Homes in the area have no running water or electricity. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Children play in the light of a flashlight at a school turned shelter, after their home was destroyed when Hurricane Maria hit the island in September, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct.18, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Clothes are seen on a rack outside a home, after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

A man collects rainwater with a container, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Items destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Maria sit in the street, waiting to be picked up by the garbage service, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. With hundreds of thousands of people still without running water, and 20 of the island’s 51 sewage treatment plants out of service, there are growing concerns about contamination and disease. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Utuado, Puerto Rico

People who lost access to water in the wake of Hurricane Maria gather at pipes carrying water from a mountain creek, on the side of the road in Utuado, Puerto Rico, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

A family is seen in their front yard flooded with mud, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

A neighbour helps a woman to fix the roof of her home, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Barranquitas, Puerto Rico

A resident walks along a muddy road in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo: Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

Freddy Guerrero sits amidst the remains of his auto shop, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Quebradillas, Puerto Rico

A U.S. Army helicopter transports material to repair the Guajataca Dam, damaged during Hurricane Maria, in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. The dam was built around 1928, and holds back a man-made lake. (Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

A man stands on what is left of the balcony of his home and near another destroyed house, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct.16, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

Utuado, Puerto Rico

Local residents watch after a U.S. Army helicopter landed during food and water delivery efforts four weeks after Hurricane Maria struck on Oct. 18, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. U.S. soldiers and agents delivered supplies provided by FEMA to remote residents in mountainous Utuado. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Utuado, Puerto Rico

U.S Army soldiers offload bottled water from a helicopter during recovery efforts four weeks after Hurricane Maria struck on Oct. 18, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. U.S. soldiers and agents delivered food and water provided by FEMA to remote residents in mountainous Utuado. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Utuado, Puerto Rico

Mourners carry the casket of Wilfredo Torres Rivera, 58, who died Oct. 13 after jumping off a bridge into a lake, three weeks after Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 19, 2017 in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Utuado was one of the hardest hit areas on the island and remains largely without grid electricity or running water. Wilfredo’s family said he suffered from depression and schizophrenia and was caring for his 92-year-old mother in a home without electricity or water in the aftermath of Maria. They believe he did not have the mental tools to manage the challenges of the storm’s aftermath. The family was concerned and brought Wilfredo to a doctor shortly before his death but they say he was not provided with adequate care or counseling. While the government has ruled his death a suicide, the family believes his death should be classified as a death caused by Hurricane Maria. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico

A pair of shoes are seen inside a house filled with mud, after the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Oct. 16, 2017. (Photo: Alvin Baez/Reuters)

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