Puerto Rico never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria when it made landfall in 2017, and now thousands of residents are once again living through widespread blackouts, flooding and infrastructure outages caused by Hurricane Fiona.
When Maria struck, the island’s already fragile electric grid became even more damaged. The roads became more unstable, and the island experienced widescale flooding and difficulties with infrastructures arose, schools included.
Puerto Rico residents are still feeling the impact of this natural disaster. When Fiona made landfall in September, the island suffered devastation once again as it was already vulnerable. Many school districts were forced to close in the aftermath of the Category 4 storm, while others were being used as shelters.
Puerto Rico’s schools have undergone various shutdowns in the past years due to hurricanes, earthquakes and the global pandemic. From the time Fiona made landfall, the Puerto Rico Department of Education confirmed that through mid-October at least that 60 public schools remained closed throughout due to the lack of basic services. It is unknown how many have been opened since then.
According to local news reports, Secretary of Transportation Eileen M. Velez-Vega said approximately 26 sections of roads around the island remain closed. For the schools that are open, school buses are having difficulty picking up students up for school.
Heavy rains have also continued and worsened the landslides that had already occurred due to Fiona. Some roads around the island are non-navigable for the time being. Local news reports reported that some roads from the south part of the island all the way to the San Juan metropolitan area have suffered severe landslides.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden announced at the end of October that Puerto Rico school districts would receive nearly $9.825 billion from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program. The rebate award will help the Puerto Rico Department of Education purchase over 25 electric school buses that will accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles and produce cleaner air around schools and communities.
School bus dealer Transporte Sonnell submitted the application for the Department of Education and will be the first company on the island that will operate electric school buses.
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