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'With Christ, Anything Is Possible': Rebuilding Puerto Rico after Maria's 60-Mile-Wide 'Tornado'

'With Christ, Anything Is Possible': Rebuilding Puerto Rico after Maria's 60-Mile-Wide 'Tornado' Read Transcript


Two hurricanes left Puerto Rico

almost in the dark two weeks ago.

For many the lights are still not back on.

Our Chuck Holton visited the devastation

to show us what it's like for people

living without modern conveniences

we take for granted.

Hurricane Maria was the most powerful hurricane

to hit this island in more than 80 years.

It was essentially like a 60 mile-wide tornado

that just hit a bull's eye on that the nation of Puerto Rico.

It was so powerful that it blew paint off the walls

and blew bark off trees.

But it also essentially destroyed the entire power

system.

As we drive around here almost every power pole

is damaged, down, broken.

They're not going to be able to just repair this.

They're going to have to basically rebuild it

from the ground up.

But that's going to be a very difficult proposition

because Puerto Rico was in bad shape before the storm.

What I mean is that the government of Puerto Rico

has been funding its operations with debt for decades.

They've been selling bonds to US investors.

And eventually the cost of that debt

got so high that they were unable to even pay

the interest on it.

And they defaulted back in July.

So now they're unable to even borrow money

for maintenance and operations.

Many of the employees of the local power company

found out that they were going to default

and were afraid they were going to lose their pensions.

And so about 600 of them quit and took an early retirement

before they defaulted on that debt.

What that means is that the local power company here

doesn't even have enough employees to do maintenance

on the whole system, much less repairs.

In addition to that, during the Obama administration

about $170 million was earmarked for what

they called green energy-- that is, windmills and solar farms.

Well, guess what?

Those things were also completely destroyed

in this hurricane.

It's going to be months before everybody on Puerto Rico

gets their power back.

And how they're going to pay for it is anybody's guess.

So we went and talked to some people

that are sort of on the end of the line, that'll probably

be the last ones to get electricity again,

to see what has been like for them already,

and what it's going to probably be like in the future.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

CHUCK HOLTON: Nilda Perales lives

in this small village on the coast

where the storm first made landfall.

INTERPRETER: My blood pressure went up because of the heat.

And since the 21st of September, we have no water.

So I'm praying that it rains and fills the tank so we can bathe.

CHUCK HOLTON: Her grandsons are learning

to live without modern pastimes.

And rumors are they won't have light until well into 2018.

INTERPRETER: I have to have faith

it will be sooner than that, because this isn't easy.

CHUCK HOLTON: Nearby cell towers were also knocked out.

But Nilda has a message to send to the world.

INTERPRETER: In the middle of the trial,

in the heat of the battle, God is there.

He gives us strength.

He gives us power, because I know

that God has it all under control in the moment

we are crying.

But with Christ, anything is possible.

We keep moving forward.

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