Congressional Democrats want to know why the only hospital on a remote Puerto Rican island remains closed a year and a half after Hurricane Maria ripped through the area, with little apparent progress toward its rebuilding.
Democrats from the Senate and House sent a letter Wednesday to the Federal Emergency Management Agency demanding answers as to why the facility on the island of Vieques remains shuttered. The commonwealth has been seeking federal funding to rebuild the hospital that serves about 9,000 residents on the island 8 miles (13 kilometers) east of the Puerto Rican mainland.
Workers from Tesla, billionaire Elon Musk’s electric car and solar energy giant, arrived on Vieques just weeks after hurricanes Irma and María crippled the aging electrical grid and severed the transmission cable that connected this island to the Puerto Rico mainland seven miles west. The company selected the senior center as one of 11 sites on the darkened island that it would equip with power-producing panels and batteries.
Constructing the system was simple. But when workers attached the panels and batteries to the old electrical wiring in the former schoolhouse, the batteries blew out.
“It doesn’t work,” a nurse at the senior center said in Spanish during a HuffPost visit in late February. “It never has.”