USACE: 6 mo.’s after María, agency ‘remains committed’ to P.R.
Six months after Hurricane María made landfall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “remains committed to safely and urgently restoring reliable power and returning normalcy to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico as quickly as possible,” the agency said on the half anniversary of the storm.
USACE works as part of the Unified Command Group along with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the island’s Restoration Coordinator. The Corps is on track with its contribution to the goal of restoring electricity to 95 percent of pre-storm customers on the island by the end of March, it added.
The Unified Command Group and USACE leadership acknowledge that less than 7 percent of pre-storm customers are still waiting for their electricity to be restored. Power restoration for the final 5 percent of customers in more remote areas with challenging, mountainous terrain could take until late May, the agency noted.
The Corps is leveraging its resources, alongside the other four restoration contingents, to complete the mission and achieve the paramount objective of restoring power for the citizens of Puerto Rico.
Over the next several weeks, industry utilities operating under Mutual Assistance Agreements, the New York contingent, PREPA and PREPA’s contractors will all continue to maximize manpower and material against remaining priority lines, in accordance with PREPA’s Restoration Master Plan.
The final phase of the mission will be to restore grid power to the remaining 5 percent of people in the most remote and challenging areas and to build resiliency and redundancy into the grid, with the goal of restoring the system to full operational status.
“This phase will primarily be executed by PREPA crews and their contractors,” said Col. Jason A. Kirk, commander, Task Force Power Restoration. “USACE will continue to distribute, account for and transfer materials, along with managing the provision of temporary emergency power with small, medium and ‘mega’ generating units.”