SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—As the sun rose on Thursday, Wilma Martínez did not wake up to the gusty winds of Hurricane Irma that battered the island hours earlier, but rather to the noise of her ventilator warning its battery was about to die.
"It's barely at 20 percent. Once it reaches 5 percent I only have one more hour left of normal breathing," the 68-year-old women told The Daily Beast after Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, knocked out all the power in San Juan.
"I've already called 9-1-1 three times. The last thing I want is to be transferred to a hospital," Martínez muttered while packing her clothes and bottles of her medications.
Hospitals may not be much better as the Department of Health said that 42 percent of the hospitals currently rely on power generators. Earlier in the day, FEMA was working to rapidly to install a generator in Centro Medico, Puerto RIco's main healthcare complex.
On Culebra, a small island located east of Puerto Rico, Irma wiped out the entire power supply, leaving 1,800 residents in total darkness, without water or communication outside of the island. The small island 12 miles west to Saint Thomas registered sustained winds of up to 100 mph.
"Our antennas rely entirely on electricity. We cannot promise anyone that their cell phones will have coverage unless we fix the power lines first," explained Sandra Torres, president of the Telecommunications Regulatory Board to a local radio station and mentioned that 50 percent of the towers were currently out of service due to the lack of power.
On the mainland, Puerto Rico's public power company failure is also causing tension among vulnerable communities, especially those of having high levels of crime.
Expert say some sectors could face months in the darkness because roads and access to repair the power plants have been blocked since the pavement is full of fallen tree branches, making it difficult to reconnect the system to normality.
"Our prayers were heard," said Gov. Ricardo Rosselló as a sigh of relief in a recent news conference as he briefed the press on the aftermath of Irma.
According to Rosselló, 1,093,643 locals are without power and will likely sleep in total darkness for the upcoming days. The shortage of power also affects the supply of drinking water. As of this evening, more than 221,214 residents did not have water.
"That's the main issue during these events... We got lucky with Irma, but once we have no power people take advantage and robbery occurs most at night," Arturo Guzmán said to The Daily Beast as he swept and cleaned all the leaves clogged in his driveway.
Out of the 6,298 people and 501 pets refugees, about 2,200 still await their future in shelters after the hurricane flooded their homes.
"We ask for patience. There are lots of people working hand in hand to restore power outage as soon as possible," said Rosselló, adding that there will be no school for students until and all government operations will renew on Monday.
So far authorities have not reported any deaths linked directly to the storm, in comparison to the havoc that Irma caused in Antigua and Barbuda.
While Irma makes its way across the Atlantic, it is expected to cause similar damage in Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The unprecedented storm however is expected to cause catastrophic flooding in Florida early on Saturday where President Trump has declared a state of emergency, leaving Puerto Ricans worried Irma could affect their families living abroad.
"My daughter and grand children moved to Florida on May and all I can think of is what Harvey did to Texas because homes over in the US are not as strong as the ones here," said Milagros Diaz, who was trying to make contact with her daughter who lives in Miami.