Tell Your Story: The FCC Needs to Know About the Impact of Hurricane Maria on Communications Services in Puerto Rico
Last September, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, which is home to close to 3.5 million people.
The ability to communicate during a disaster is a life-and-death issue. But the hurricane destroyed Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, leaving the island without power and phone service, and damaging 95 percent of all cell towers.1
And the press has reported that at least 1,000 people died.2
Now, four months later, a third of the population is still without power and close to 10 percent of the island’s cellphone towers still haven’t been repaired.3 In addition, home internet services have yet to be restored to at least a third of the island.4
It’s unacceptable that this kind of neglect could happen in this country. But the slow pace of recovery, especially in rural areas, is directly tied to racism and the island’s colonial status, which is rarely discussed in media coverage.
This is why it’s critical for the FCC to hear from and listen to the Puerto Rican community on the impact Hurricane Maria has had on their ability to access communications services — and how this has affected their lives.
The FCC is seeking public comment on the impact on the communications infrastructure from the four hurricanes that struck seven states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017. Share your story or the story of someone you know and we’ll submit it to the FCC.
It’s the FCC’s job to ensure the public has access to a working communications network, especially during a disaster. But after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans had to travel long distances to find cellphone reception so they could talk with their loved ones and find the help that they needed.
There is so much the public doesn’t know about what the government and the communications industry did before and after the hurricane to ensure service on the island wasn’t lost — or was quickly restored in the event of an outage.
It’s critical for the FCC to hear from the Puerto Rican community about the challenges they’re facing in being able to access communications services — and what can be done to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.
The FCC needs to know about the impact of Hurricane Maria on communications services in Puerto Rico. Share your story (or the story of someone you know) today.
We'll make sure your comments are filed into the FCC Docket.
1. “Communications Status Report for Areas Impacted by Hurricane Maria,” Federal Communications Commission, Sept. 21, 2017: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0921/DOC-346840A1.pdf
2. “Puerto Rico Orders Review and Recount of Hurricane Deaths,” The New York Times, Dec. 18, 2018: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/18/us/puerto-rico-hurricane-maria-death-toll-review.html
3. "A Third of Puerto Rico is Still Without Power, But FEMA Stops Delivering Food and Water Tomorrow," Mother Jones, Jan. 30, 2018: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/01/a-third-of-puerto-rico-is-still-without-power-but-fema-stops-delivering-food-and-water-tomorrow/
4. Letter to the FCC from the Telecommunications Regulatory Board of Puerto Rico, Jan. 22, 2018: http://bit.ly/2DMQOMi; Federal Communications Commission, Communications Status Report for Areas Impacted by Hurricane Maria, Jan. 17, 2018: https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2018/db0117/DOC-348749A1.pdf (“Since there are widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the FCC has received reports that large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or wireline service. While the companies have been actively restoring service, the majority of their customers do not have service because commercial power is not yet available in their respective areas.”)