Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico hard, causing an estimated $2 billion in property damage and knocking out electricity and water service to most of the Island. Now, tourist attractions and local businesses have largely reopened.
Airports and cruise ports are open. Most hotels in San Juan and all the Island’s golf courses are open and functioning. Some beaches are closed, but many are back to normal. Resorts and restaurants are back in business, though some restaurants are using the curbside pickup and delivery options perfected during the pandemic, and some have limited hours.
Running a business with generators is very expensive, so businesses that are still waiting for their electricity or water to be restored may not be fully open yet.
Governor Pierluisi reported last week that 93% of the residents have electric and 98% have water. Luma says that as of October 7th, 97% of their customers have power. That’s 100% of San Juan but just 86% of Mayagüez. Either way, this is much better than what was seen after Hurricane Maria.
Tourism has been a focus for recent development efforts. While Puerto Rico’s tourist industry has historically been less significant economically than that of other tropical paradise destinations, recent investments have made a difference. Discover Puerto Rico reports that only 10% of travelers cancelled their plans in response to Hurricane Fiona. Discover Puerto Rico expects to spend $2.9 million on advertising through the end of the year, to encourage tourists to keep coming.
Homes, roads, and bridges will take longer. The federal government has declared 100% cost share (that is, they will pay all the costs) for the most essential responses. Millions of dollars have been made available immediately, and President Biden has committed to making sure that every dollar allocated for the disaster response will be delivered to the Island.
Businesses are also making efforts. Nespresso is reissuing their Cafecito Puerto Rico coffee pods and purchasing tools and equipment to help farmers recover from the destruction of Hurricane Fiona. Walgreen’s is donating $500,000 to the Red Cross for Puerto Rico. Amazon has shipped thousands of relief items. Oriental Bank, FirstBank, Walmart, Evertec and the Public Relations Professionals Association together donated $2.5 million, and Walmart has also supplied $40,000 in relief items. These are just a few of the donations made by the private sector.
The good news doesn’t erase the damage done to the Island. Hurricane Fiona caused grave destruction in Puerto Rico, which had not yet fully recovered from Hurricane Maria. Many people were left without homes or jobs, and the island’s infrastructure was severely damaged. Statehood advocacy is more important than ever to help Puerto Rico rebuild and recover.
Tell your congressional reps that HR8393, a bill which will end Puerto Rico’s territorial status and allow the people of Puerto Rico to choose a permanent political status, must pass in Congress this year.