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More than 100,000 clients in Puerto Rico are still without power 2 weeks after Fiona

A LUMA team works to restore power in San Juan days after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to the island.
Jose Jimenez
/
Getty Images
A LUMA team works to restore power in San Juan days after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to the island.

More than 100,000 customers in Puerto Rico are still waiting for power to be restored two weeks after Hurricane Fiona dumped historic amounts of rain and knocked out power across the island.

Fiona made landfall in southwest Puerto Rico on Sept. 18 as a Category 1 storm. Most of the remaining outages are on the western and southern sides of the island, according to LUMA Energy, the company that operates the island's power infrastructure.

The storm dropped more than 30 inches of rain in some areas, causing flooding and mudslides that damaged roads and bridges into Puerto Rico's mountains. Many residents were left stranded in small towns without access to utilities, food or medical care.

At least 13 people have died in connection with the storm, according to Puerto Rico's Department of Health. Another 12 deaths are under investigation.

The storm cut power to all of the island's nearly 1.5 million electrical customers. Hundreds of thousands also lost access to water service.

Two weeks later, 91% of customers have had power restored, LUMA reported Sunday. Power is back for the vast majority of homes in the municipalities in northern and northeastern Puerto Rico, including the populous area around San Juan.

But nearly a third of customers in the western region of the island were still without power, along with about 17% of customers in municipalities along the southern coast. The company had previously estimated that power will be restored to 90% of customers in those regions by Thursday.

LUMA has restored service to all of Puerto Rico's hospitals and, as of Saturday, to 94% of the island's water operations facilities, the company reported.

Even before Fiona, there was widespread discontent on Puerto Rico with LUMA, the private company that was awarded a $1.5 billion contract last year to take over Puerto Rico's power grid. That deal came after Hurricane Maria was the final, disastrous straw to decades of neglect and corruption when the system was publicly run.

In a letter sent last week to LUMA, some members of Congress expressed their concerns about why the company "had not adequately prepared the island's energy infrastructure" to withstand a hurricane like Fiona.

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Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.