US Territories’ February 25 – March 4, 2018 news week in tweets
Another Major Blackout Plagues Puerto Rico
A rolling blackout hit San Juan and the surrounding areas, a chunk of the islands that houses 970,000 people, after two of the main power plants shut down on March 1. The power company, one Governor Ricardo Rosselló plans to privatize in 18 months, is $9 billion in debt and working with an outdated electrical infrastructure and struggling to maintain operations. Overall, 15% of Puerto Rico remains without power, though officials claim all power should be restored by May of this year.
Alcohol Based Traffic Crimes In Guam
Three people were charged by Guam’s local courts for driving under the influence on March 1st. A 28 year old female ran over a concrete barrier and was charged with two misdemeanors after her husband admitted she was under the influence. A 37 year old male was charged after swerving all over the road while driving drunk, and a 35 year old man fell asleep at the wheel after drinking heavily.
8% Job Loss in USVI As US Territories Recover
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) has concluded an examination of the fiscal situations of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, concluding that both territories were struggling financially long before Hurricanes Irma and Maria decimated them, and the success of their recovery is a major concern. Puerto Rico experienced 4% job loss, a number that is slowly rebounding. The USVI’s 8% job loss has not begun to recover, and over 150,000 residents have migrated to the mainland United States. Still, recovery in both territories is underway, with the USVI gradually regaining electric power. FRBNY stated that recovery for the territories will be difficult but possible with careful planning, citing the fact that the natural disasters of 2017 are surpassed in damage by Hurricane Katrina’s effect on New Orleans, Louisiana, which was able to eventually bounce back.
American Samoa Declared a Disaster Area
Hundreds remain in emergency shelters after Tropical Storm Gita destroyed American Samoa. President Donald Trump approved the disaster declaration for the US Territory on March 2 to free up emergency funding to be used as loans to residents whose property and homes were damaged, though 25% of the funding will have to be repaid by American Samoa to FEMA later.
American Samoa Fears Added Debt, Limits Federal Response to Disaster
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has refused to accept any further aid to American Samoa, despite the approval of his disaster declaration request, because FEMA is requiring the island to pay back 25% of the response cost back eventually. Preliminary estimates for required aid were $10 million, so Matalasi has little choice but to refuse aid for a US Territory with a gross domestic product of only $640 million. Not all relief is costly: the American Red Cross is providing aid and requires no debt to be paid. Matalasi is awaiting further assessment of damages across American Samoa before reconsidering his decision to refuse aid.