Puerto Rico remains almost entirely without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which barreled across the US territory nearly a week ago.
Within hours of touching down as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday morning, Maria wiped out what remained of Puerto Rico’s already vulnerable and storm-ravaged electric grid.
Residents described bleak conditions to Business Insider: life-saving medications that need refrigeration are on the verge of spoiling; elderly residents and people with disabilities are trapped in apartment buildings with no elevators; many are without basic resources like food, cash, and gas; there is little news being distributed around the island and people are desperate for information.
Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello has called the situation a humanitarian crisis.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Martiza Stanchich, a professor of Caribbean studies at the University of Puerto Rico, told Business Insider during a phone call. Stanchich said she’d driven for hours to get cellphone reception.
Still, locals are doing their best to cope. Some have started cleanup efforts; others are delivering supplies to people who cannot leave their homes. And family members living in mainland states are doing their best to pass messages between loved ones who can’t communicate with each other.