As of Wednesday, three weeks have passed since Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, wiping out innumerable homes and devastating the island’s infrastructure.
President Trump has been repeatedly criticized for his handling of recovery efforts, prompting him to repeatedly insist that the government is doing all that it can. He stated on Twitter that “nobody could have done what I’ve done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation,” including a link to a video with highlights of the recovery efforts. (As The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson reported, though, many of the clips in the video were taken out of context.)
The Puerto Rican government created a website, status.pr, that provides regular updates on metrics showing how the U.S. territory is recovering from the hurricane. Twenty-one days after the storm hit, the figures are still sobering, with (as of writing) 10.6 percent of electricity customers having power and less than two-thirds of water customers having water. We’ve been tracking that data hourly for about a week, allowing people to see not only the status of the recovery but also the pace.
On Wednesday we added a new tool: A Twitter account, @pr_recovery. Every hour, when our system checks status.pr for new data, the account will tweet an update on the efforts on the island. Each hour we’ll include numbers on power and water access; on other hours, we’ll add in other figures, too, such as the extent of phone coverage or bus service.
The recovery from a major hurricane will always take an extended period of time, as we saw when we visited a neighborhood damaged by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy last month. Many homes were still uninhabitable and rebuilding others has been slow.
But by drawing attention to the ongoing needs in Puerto Rico, we hope to be able to help hasten the island’s immediate recovery. When we first started tracking data on Puerto Rico’s recovery, 5 percent of the island had access to electricity. Almost two weeks later, that figure is only 10 percent.