Conflict

Lights are out in Puerto Rico again. But for some, the power's been out since Hurricane Maria.

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On Wednesday, the entire Island of Puerto Rico lost power. But before Wednesday's outage, after nearly eight months post-Hurricane Maria, 11 percent of the island was still living in darkness — including this apartment building in Coamo.`

On Wednesday, the entire Island of Puerto Rico lost power. But before Wednesday's outage, after nearly eight months post-Hurricane Maria, 11 percent of the island was still living in darkness — including this apartment building in Coamo.

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

Puerto Rico's power company said it had restored power to more than 1.1 million homes and businesses by Thursday morning after a transmission line failure cut service to almost all of the island's 3.4 million residents the day before.

The Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority, known as PREPA, was working to restore power to the less than 30 percent of customers in the US territory still without power after Wednesday morning's blackout.

Related: Six months after Maria, Puerto Rico is burdened with challenges

However, the issue of power outages post-Hurricane Maria is not a novelty to a large portion of the island’s residents. Prior to the islandwide blackout — nearly eight months after the hurricanes — more than 44,000 customers were still without electricity.

“People have been waiting for power to be restored for seven months now, and it’s horrible that in many rural towns, they don’t even have an end-date to this power cut, so there’s no way people can trust what the government is saying," says journalist Carla Minet, executive director of the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico. "It seems they’ve been so aloof on the issue of the past months. People have no trust in them.”

Puerto Rico’s power grid remains destroyed. Massive generators put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers provides much of the power to those who do have it. 

Related: Official: Puerto Rico should rebuild power grid from scratch

Photojournalist Alex Wroblewski was in Puerto Rico five months after hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the island. At the time, one-third of the country was still without electricity. He visited the forgotten pockets to see how residents grappled with life post-Maria and post-power.

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person hanging a lightbulb in a dark room

Manuel Morales, owner of Colamba Barra Encanto, in Coamo, at his home in Puerto Rico, in February. 

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

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Irma Torres guides herself by flashlight at her home

Irma Torres guides herself by flashlight at her home in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, where she lives with her husband, Jose Morales. In February, they had been living without power for more than six months. They spend most of their time at home, sometimes listening to the radio.

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRi

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The kitchen of Irma Torres and her husband Jose Morales is lit by a battery-powered lantern

The kitchen of Irma Torres and her husband, Jose Morales, is lit by a battery-powered lantern. The two had been lighting their kitchen with this lantern for more than six months. 

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

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Car headlights illuminate a boy on his bike in the town of Utuado

Car headlights illuminate a boy on his bike in the town of Utuado on Feb.18, 2018, where residents were without electricity nearly six months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Residents developed a system of pulleys and PVC pipes to bring water to the town. 

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

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Students at the Jose R. Barreras school eat lunch in a dark cafeteria

Students at the Jose R. Barreras school eat lunch in a dark cafeteria in Morovis, Puerto Rico on Feb. 19, 2018. 

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

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A man works on his home in Morovis, Puerto Rico, as residents in the neighborhood await for power to come back on.

A man works on his home in Morovis, Puerto Rico, as residents in the neighborhood wait for power to come back on. 

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

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Damaged power lines in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Damaged power lines in San Juan, Puerto Rico, photographed on Feb. 19, 2018, six months after Hurricane Maria. 

Credit:

Alex Wroblewski/PRI

Reuters reporting was used in this story.

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Tagged: Puerto Rico.