It’s been 60 days since Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico and the unincorporated U.S. territory is still far from recovery. Estimates by one financial services firm that provides Small Business Administration-backed loans is estimating that more than 5,000 businesses there will go out of business due to the infrastructure collapse caused by the storm, according to this report by Public Radio International.
“Every day is difficult. Getting a plumber, an electrician, materials,” said one business owner in the PRI report. “I was the only one in this corner who was not looted and that includes a yoga shop which has no inventory.” Other businesses owners have also suffered. They experienced thefts, lost employees and are unable to invoice their insurance providers because there’s no Internet access. The lack of electricity has shut down many other businesses.
Plenty of organizations are doing their best to help. One–the Foundation for Puerto Rico–has put aside its work promoting tourism and infrastructure and instead has been providing meeting space, Internet access and other resources to farmers and small business owners, as well as $3,000 grants to help businesses get back on their feet. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have also been working round the clock to restore infrastructure. But there’s still plenty more to do.
Power is only at 50 percent across the region and many smaller towns are just getting back online. San Juan, the island’s capital, continues to have “huge patches of darkness.” The country’s healthcare system took a big hit in the storm and much needed funding from Washington remains up in the air.
Still, some business owners are remaining optimistic about the island’s future. “Why wouldn’t you live in Puerto Rico?” the owner of a bed and breakfast said in the PRI report. “It’s the best place on Earth.”