Getting the power on in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The lights are back on in Northern Puerto Rico Tuesday but who knows for how long. An explosion over the weekend at a power plant left many in darkness. It is an experience that’s become common in the wake of last September’s hurricane.

Data from the website “Status PR” show nearly 84% of the Island has power. But that means 16% are still disconnected.

“There’s a great deal of action that we’re taking," Thomas Kuhn, President at Edison Electric Institute said.

Edison Electric Institute represents all US investor owned electric companies. Kuhn said the association brought in crews by the barge to help reconnect those without power.

“It’s very inspiring these people who were coming over, during the holidays, to help their fellow citizens of Puerto Rico," Kuhn added.

But while Kuhn’s crews restrung wire, U.S. Virgin Islands Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI-At Large) said the recovery needs a deeper solution to better ground their grid.

“Hurricanes are going to continue to come through the Caribbean and come with a veracity that we haven’t seen in the past, and more frequently, and so we need to be prepared," Plaskett said in a sit down interview.

She said wires should be buried to lessen the impact of future storms. Plaskett argued her territory is being treated like second-class citizens.

She said, “I know I didn’t have power in my own home from September 6, 2017 to two days after Christmas. Anywhere else in the United States that could never have happened.”

Plaskett said it’s not just the grid. Hospitals are destroyed and schools are so damaged, students are forced to cycle through in four-hour shifts because there simply aren’t enough classrooms anymore.

“After this destruction the federal government really needs to step up to the plate," she added.

Plaskett is working on a bill to rebuild her islands, but it’s in the early stages and may never develop the support it needs to recharge the recovery.

So far Plaskett’s bill only has the support of Democrats. Republicans will need to get on-board if it has any chance to become law.

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