Impacts from Hurricane Maria


Our colleagues at the WaterISAC have generously allowed us to republish information that they have gathered related to Hurricane Maria’s impacts on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

In a September 21 press release, the U.S. EPA reported it had response personnel staged and ready to deploy to both locations. At this time, WaterISAC is aware of the following information, which has been compiled from a variety of government, media, and social media sources:
Puerto Rico
Water and Wastewater Sector

  • According to a spokesman for the Puerto Rico governor, 70% of the island is without drinking water.
  • The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) lost access to its remote viewing system, used for monitoring water quality and production and conditions at its plants and storage tank levels. PRASA’s headquarters building also suffered significant damage.

Critical Lifelines Sectors

  • Communications: 95.2% of the cellular sites are without power.
  • Electricity: Nearly all 1.57 million electricity customers are without power, with the exception of facilities running on generators.
  • Transportation: The San Juan airport is closed until September 23 to all but military aid aircraft. Floods and debris on roadways have made access to many areas difficult or impractical. All maritime ports are closed.

U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John)
Water and Wastewater Sector
In a press release, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) reports its water distribution crews are working to resolve an issue with water availability on St. Croix. WAPA personnel are now installing a standby generator to energize the Contentment pump station. Once functional, potable water will be pumped St. Croix’s west end and allow the Kingshill tank to gain storage. The tank has been emptied by an apparent leak which developed during the hurricane. Electrical service has also been restored at the Richmond pump station which will allow for the continued building of storage. Currently, there are 7.5 million gallons of water on St. Croix, which is a three-day water supply
Also according to WAPA, St. John has three days of emergency water storage. St. Thomas has two days of water storage. Customers in higher elevations will experience low pressure or no service at all until all pump stations have been restored with electricity.
Critical Lifelines Sectors

  • Communications: 81% of the cellular sites in St. Croix are out of service; 76.6% of the cellular sites in St. Thomas are out of service; and 60% of the cellular sites in St. John are out of service.
  • Electricity: 90% of customers are without power on St. Croix, 99% are without power on St. Thomas, and 100% are without power on St. John. St. Croix expects to reenergize a local power plant once equipment dries, possibly as soon as today. (Additional updates are available in the WAPA press release.)
  • Transportation: All airports are closed, although military aid aircraft and small commuter aircraft from St. Croix to St. Thomas are permitted. Floods and debris on roadways have made access to many areas difficult or impractical. All maritime ports are closed.