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Power restoration brings hope to Patillas, Puerto Rico, in aftermath of Hurricane Maria

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
December 22, 2017, 7:01:35 PM EST

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Electricity has been restored in the downtown area of Patillas, Puerto Rico, a town adopted by AccuWeather in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, just in time for the holidays.

As of Thursday evening, AccuWeather's adopted town of Patillas, Puerto Rico, has started to regain power, after 94 days.

"People's spirits were lifted last night as the crew worked restoring power. The best Christmas gift at this moment would be to have power," Jose J. Rivera Lebron, local radio host, said.

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(Image via Jose J. Rivera Lebron local radio host)

Power companies worked on the urban power poles and wires with a target date of power reinstatement of Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017.

"The power company Cobra based out of Texas has been working about a little over a month in Patillas," Lebron said.

The power companies have been ahead of schedule and began testing on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. They were able to light several streets; however, they refused to power the town all at once, because they want to make sure there isn’t a shortage.

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A woman reacts while watching the damaged road at the entrance of the southeastern town of Patillas, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

At the moment, percentages have not been issued because it is a very small area that has power.

"The Patillas downtown area has some power already, however, the surrounding communities do not. Power grid tests have been done but the damage is so extensive that when the power is on some generators explode," Lebron said.

Mountainous areas in the town will remain without power until the middle of 2018.

"The government has stated that they want to have power before Christmas by Patillas downtown area. The help continues to arrive in Patillas; such as, food, water, first aid, etc. Myself, the town, the mayor would want to thank AccuWeather and the 'Rays of Hope' initiative for helping Patillas," Lebron said.

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Patillas was one of the first towns affected when Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. Since Patillas does not have a port access, it was largely cut off from relief efforts and shipments of supplies, putting its more than 20,000 residents in a desperate situation with a scarcity of clean water, power, cell service, food staples and other essentials.

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AccuWeather responded to the extraordinary 2017 hurricane season with a companywide effort to help victims impacted by Hurricane Maria.

In October, AccuWeather announced that it was adopting the remote town of Patillas, located in the southeastern part of the island, as part of its "Rays of Hope" community initiative.

"When we saw what the people affected by this storm were going through, our hearts went out to them," said Evan Myers, AccuWeather's chief operating officer and senior meteorologist. "As a company that truly understands the impact of severe weather, we wanted to help provide relief where it would make a tangible difference in peoples' lives."


Now there are only seven towns without power in Puerto Rico.

AccuWeather Video Producer Lincoln Riddle spent several days getting a sense of the recovery by interviewing residents, including Patillas Mayor Norberto Soto Figueroa.

"What stood out [the] most is that the people are in great spirits despite all of the issues," Riddle said. "They have found ways to get by and manage, while maintaining hope and a positive attitude."

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