'With Christ, Anything Is Possible': Rebuilding Puerto Rico after Maria's 60-Mile-Wide 'Tornado'
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PUERTO RICO - Two Hurricanes in September left the island of Puerto Rico almost completely in the dark, including a direct hit by Hurricane Maria.
CBN News visited the devastated US territory and found out what it's like for residents who are looking at months without the modern conveniences and even some essentials we so often take for granted.
Hurricane Maria was the most powerful hurricane to hit this island in more than 80 years. It was essentially like a 60-mile wide tornado that hit a bulls-eye on Puerto Rico.
The storm was so powerful that it blew paint off walls and the bark off trees. But it also essentially destroyed the entire power system.
As we drove around here, almost every power pole is damaged or broken down. They're not going to be able to repair this. They are just going to have to basically rebuild it from the ground up.
Puerto Rico's Pre-Maria Crisis
But that's going to be a very difficult proposition because Puerto Rico was in bad shape before the storm.
Puerto Rico has been funding its operations with debt for decades. They've been selling bonds to US investors and eventually the cost of that debt got so high that they were unable to even pay the interest on it and they defaulted on it back in July. So now they are unable to even borrow money for maintenance and operations.
Many of the employees of the power company found out they were going to default and they were afraid they were going to lose their pensions, and so about 600 of them quit and took an early retirement before they defaulted on that debt.
What that means is the local power company here doesn't even have enough employees to do maintenance on the whole system much less repairs.
In addition to that, during the Obama administration, about $170 million was earmarked for green energy like windmills and solar farms. Well, guess what? Those things were also completely destroyed in this hurricane.
It's going to be months before everybody on Puerto Rico gets their power back, and how they are going to pay for it is anyone's guess. So we went and talked to some people that are sort of on the end of the line that will probably be the last ones to get electricity again, to see what it's been like for them already and what it's probably going to be like in the future.
'With Christ, Anything Is Possible'
Nilda Perales lives in the small village on the coast where the storm first made landfall.
"My blood pressure went up. Because of the heat. And since the 21st of September, we have no water. So I'm praying that it rains, and fills the tank so we can bathe," Nilda said.
Her grandsons are learning to live without modern pastimes, and rumors are they won't have light until well into 2018.
"I have to have faith it will be sooner than that because this isn't easy," Nilda said.
Nearby cell towers were also knocked out. But Nilda has a message to send to the world.
"In the middle of the trial, in the heat of the battle, God is there, He gives us strength. He gives us power. Because I know that God has it all under control. In the moment we are crying but with Christ, anything is possible. We keep moving forward," she said.
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