This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.
We have seen the pictures before. A man and his dog, both wet and disheveled, gliding down the middle of a residential street in a rowboat past downed power lines. As they drift, they pass the tops of cars parked at the curb, immobile. As they drift further, they see a woman and child standing on the roof of a darkened house, dazed. Is the child missing a toy or maybe a pet? Is the woman missing a spouse or maybe a child?
Now consider sitting at home watching the game or a movie or the news when the TV flickers and then goes out, along with all the other lights and electrical appliances in your home. After a minute or two your concern rises as you reach for your cell phone and call the power company. Your local utility responds that they are aware of the problem and that repairs will be made within the hour.
Now consider the fate of the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Six months after the hurricane, people are still without power. Maria initially left 3.4 million U.S. citizens without electricity, and it became known as the apagón, or super blackout. As a result of the apagón, schools, homes, and businesses were ...