Hurricane Maria Is Hitting Puerto Ricans in Their Pocketbook


The aftermath of Hurricane Maria is hitting Puerto Ricans in their pocketbooks.

Surviving for what is now more than five weeks without electricity and depending on bottled water is adding up for residents.

“Everyone’s life became more expensive,” said Lizette Rodriguez, who lives in Caguas, but has been staying in her mother-in-law’s apartment in San Juan for the past two weeks.

“We are paying more on a daily basis, because by not having electricity – in my case I found a generator – it could be an additional more than $15 a day of (fuel),” Rodriguez said.

Puerto Ricans are having to hunt for certain grocery products, spending gasoline as they go from store to store and have to shop for goods more often because they have no electricity to power refrigerators.

Costs for survival are on top of what they have to pay for items or homes damaged or lost in Maria’s destructive sweep up the middle of the island.

Even before Hurricane Maria blasted Puerto Rico, residents paid higher prices for goods. As an island, many supplies must be shipped in and can only be delivered by ships from the U.S. with U.S. crews.

Related: Puerto Rico’s Frantic Search for Someone to Turn on the Lights

Economist José J. Villamil, president of the board of Technical Studies, told El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper, that it is too early to calculate the impact Hurricane Maria has made on the cost of living. But in the U.S. there has been an increase in prices for goods in demand since hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, he told the newspaper.

“Without a doubt, there will be an increase in the cost of living at least for the coming months, until the market normalizes. Any price increase that directly affects people’s well being, at that time their earnings have been reduced,” he said.

Rodriguez said that before Maria, she would normally spend $15 a week on gasoline for her car. But that’s how much she was spending per day for her generator, which she can’t run continuously.


Jose Rodriguez walks while carrying food he bought in a supermarket in Humacao, in the east of Puerto Rico, on September 27, 2017.