Satellite Images Of Puerto Rico Before And After Hurricane Maria Reveal Extent Of Blackout

Much of the island has been devastated by the hurricane, which has flooded large parts, destroyed roads, and blacked out power. The National Guard/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Emerging from the eye of the storm, Puerto Rico is broken.

Hurricane Maria swept the Caribbean island last week, leaving in its wake a trail of utter devastation and ruin. Houses were blasted away, roads washed out to sea, and the electricity grid trashed. Five days later and little has changed as the US territory is at risk of descending into a very real and very worrying humanitarian crisis.

One of the main concerns is simply the lack of power. Outside of the capital city San Juan, many Puerto Ricans are still struggling without power or communication, and clean drinking water and medical aid is also reportedly running thin.

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The island's governor has warned that “a humanitarian crisis is occurring in America,” and government satellite images of Puerto Rico taken at night reveal the extent of the power outages across the island. Taken before and four days after the hurricane struck, they reveal a stark and worrying situation, in which the vast majority of the island has been plunged into darkness.

It is not just the lack of light and power that is hindering people. It is thought that over 95 percent of mobile phones are still without service and, coupled with the damage to roads, there is increasing fear that some communities or families have not been able to make contact with the authorities or their loved ones since the hurricane struck.

The moment hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico. NOAA

National Guardsmen have been positioned at ports and airports, with the hope that by getting these up and running as soon as possible, aid can be shipped in. Local officials are also working to move residents that live at the base of the Guajataca Dam, which is in very real danger of collapsing.

While US citizens are begging for aid in restoring the electricity to their island home, what is the President of the United States of America doing? Organizing assistance to be sent? Or simply offering his condolences at the terrifying situation unfolding? Nope, he’s tweeting that Puerto Rico should be dealing with its debts instead.

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