Speed Reads

Hurricane Maria

Puerto Ricans are losing power as island fights to recover from Hurricane Maria

Five weeks after Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico, islanders are actually losing power rather than gaining it back. Now just 18 percent of Puerto Ricans have electricity, down 3.2 percent from earlier this month, BBC's James Cook reports.

"Almost two-thirds of Puerto Rico's electricity generation capacity is located in the southern portion of the island, and most of the population is concentrated in the north," writes the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its Tuesday report. "Some of the electricity generated in the south of the island must be transmitted on long-distance transmission lines to the north, but many of those transmission lines were damaged by Hurricane Maria."

"It's like going back in time," Kevin Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, 25, told The New York Times of having to learn to improvise without electricity. An estimated 73 percent of Puerto Ricans now have drinkable water and 79 percent of gas stations are open, the most recent situation report adds.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) signed a contract worth up to $300 million with Whitefish Energy to work on the island's ravaged electrical infrastructure. When Maria hit, two-year-old Whitefish — based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's hometown — had just two employees.