5 Post-Hurricane Maria Numbers You Should Know... And 2 We Still Don't

It's been three weeks since Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the American island is still struggling to recover, amidst rumblings in Washington, D.C. of a future withdrawal of federal aid and first responders.

Withdrawing emergency services and aid workers could leave more than three million Americans in desperate need of help and with few resources to get themselves back to normal. Since the storm hit, various organizations and government programs have been keeping track of how the island's recovery is progressing. Below, we've put together five numbers that stood out to us from Puerto Rico-related news reports, and two numbers that are still to be determined.


1. 17 percent of Puerto Rico has electricity

As of Friday, the Puerto Rican government says 17 percent of the island's power has been restored. That number climbed to 16 percent earlier in the week, then fell back down to 10 percent, and is now back at 17 percent.

Without power, residents of the island are unable to refrigerate their food or shelter from the sweltering heat with air conditioning. They are having trouble communicating via computer and telephone, and hospitals have been forced to juggle patients who require treatments like dialysis, which requires electricity.

2. 36 percent of Puerto Rico does not have drinking water.

These numbers continue to improve, but the situation is getting even more dire. As recently as October 4, less than half of the island had water. 

On Wednesday, reports surfaced that Puerto Ricans have resorted to drinking water from a polluted well that was fenced off on the island. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged the news, saying they have confirmed "reports of residents obtaining, or trying to obtain, drinking water from wells at hazardous waste superfund sites in Puerto Rico." A superfund site is a place that has been quarantined for a planned federal cleanup.

3. 45 percent of the island does not have phone service.

Just 18.9 percent of cellular antennas and 37.12 percent of cellular towers are operational, according to the Puerto Rican government. That means that many people on the island are still completely cut off from the outside word and relatives or loved ones who are also on the island. The situation is so desperate that one reporter from The New York Times said that when she visited Puerto Rico, people left her phone numbers and messages and asked her to contact family members when she got back to the United States. 

4. 79 percent of gas stations are open.

One of the most troubling issues with the storm is that without electricity, Puerto Ricans have been left to rely on fuel to run their generators. But one in five gas stations on the island is still out of commission, and that's after two weeks of improvement. The result has been long lines and, in many cases, even when the gas stations are functioning, towns are running out of fuel much quicker than usual.

5. 80 percent of Puerto Rico's agriculture industry has been wiped out.

Puerto Rico's Secretary of Agriculture said about 80 percent of the agriculture value of the island was wiped out by Hurricane Maria. That number is equivalent to approximately $780 million dollars in value that the island lost. 

Plantains, coffee, and banana crops took the most damage, according to CNBC. But the issue is even worse than it sounds. Puerto Rico imports almost 85 percent of its food, and after the hurricane the damages to their airports and sea ports have left them struggling to stock grocery stores. Now, the island has even less of its own food supply to rely on. Additionally, 14 percent of the island's grocery stores are still unopened after nearly half being closed in the days following the storm.

But there are still figures yet to be conclusively reported.

Among the most important?  How many people have died and how much people outside Puerto Rico will contribute to help.

Every day this week, the death toll in Puerto Rico has risen. It's currently at 45, but that number will continue to rise. More than 110 people are already unaccounted for and funeral directors, local officials and local journalists have said the government-reported numbers are not yet accurate. On top of that, power outages are known to be quite deadly, and disaster experts say the numbers they are seeing now seem incredibly low when you consider more than 80 percent of the island is still without power. 

Also of interest is how much help will pour into Puerto Rico from outside the island. As VICE News reported earlier this week, the donations for relief efforts in Puerto Rico have lagged behind those of other major recent natural disasters like the ones caused by Hurricane Harvey. The Red Cross received $350 million dollars for Harvey relief efforts, but just $9 million for Hurricane Maria. Similarly, the private sector handed over more than $270 million for Harvey and Irma relief efforts, but only $33 million for Hurricane Maria.

That, combined with the financial crisis that was already underway there, has put the island in a dangerous situation. Not only is the government bankrupt, the generosity of the outside world has seemed to come up short. But with the island still in a state of need, there is a piece of good news: it's not too late to help.

If you want to give a hand, there are plenty of ways to step up. If you're financially able, you can donate to organizations like Global Giving Foundation or United for Puerto Rico, which are both sending money directly towards hurricane relief efforts. GoFundMe has also launched an entire page dedicated to charities and funds that you can browse and pick from.


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