Press Release

Hurricane Fiona’s Wake-Up Call: Puerto Rico Can No Longer Wait for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure

Melodie Mendez
mmendez@nrdc.org, 212-727-4442

NEW YORK, NY Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico this weekend, resulting in flooding, mudslides, infrastructure damages and yet another major blackout across the island. As the hurricane makes its way across the Caribbean, its humanitarian, economic, and infrastructure development toll is expected to increase significantly.

For years, Puerto Rico’s unstable power grid has been plagued by mismanagement, outdated equipment, and more. As of Monday, despite some service being restored to sections of the island, over a million residents are still without electricity and over 775,000 people are without potable water. 

The devastation brought on by Hurricane Fiona comes five years after Hurricane Maria and the subsequent blackout–the longest in the history of the United States–tragically caused thousands of casualties and exposed the inequities of climate-resilient infrastructure.

The following is a reaction from Luis Martinez, Director, Climate and Clean Energy, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council): 

“We cannot let history repeat itself. Hurricane Maria should have been a warning, not a foreshadow, of the catastrophic impacts extreme weather conditions will have on the island and other frontline communities across the U.S. 

“While we focus on providing Puerto Ricans with the immediate humanitarian assistance needed, we must also push for climate-resilient infrastructure to safeguard the island and its residents in the long-term. Developing decentralized solar energy is a part of this solution, which can give islanders independence from the centralized power grid that is currently failing, supply reliable and stable access to energy and place control of crucial adaptation resources directly in the hands of local leaders.

“NRDC’s partnership with groups like Resilient Power Puerto Rico empowers communities to transition to clean energy. We cannot afford to wait any longer, and we cannot let proponents of fossil fuel energy sources delay this effort any longer. Puerto Ricans deserve more resources and investment in renewable energy as they face the growing burdens of climate change.”

Additional Resources: 

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