Update 16:35 This is important information for those concerned about people in Puerto Rico
Sep 23, 2017 (San Diego) Hurricane Maria has left a path of death and destruction across the island. It is not just Puerto Rico. It is also the US Virgin Islands. Damage is extensive and will make the recovery extremely difficult.
Some of what we know
- The electric grid is down, is expected to be down for 4 to 6 months.
- The Guajaca Dam is damaged, expected to fail. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for 7,000 people.
- 9 people have died, the death toll is expected to rise
- There are food and water shortages
- Puerto Rico has a population of about 3 million people
- Communications inside the island are spotty at best. People calling off the island is almost impossible. We are looking to see if any local HAM radio operators are helping. IF you are, let me know. 1300 out of 1600 cell phone towers are down.
- The Air Force is flying mobile communications, but it will take time for those to come back online.
- They are bringing generators and diesel to hospitals
- They are clearing debris
- FEMA is moving in a barge with supplies, including 1 million liters of water. They are also transporting medicine and water.
- 15,000 people are in shelters
There is fear that epidemic disease will start.
- Verizon has apparently unlocked their network. If you reach anybody on the Island, have them turn off their phone and turn it back on after ten seconds to access the network.
There may be an immediate effect on mainland residents. Puerto Rico is home to the who’s who of pharmaceutical manufacturing. So while nobody is saying it, we could have short-term shortages. These are the companies that have manufacturing om the Island. It is about $2 Billion worth.
16 out of 20 top-selling drugs in the United States mainland are produced in Puerto Rico. Here is a link to the list. The problems that the industry will have is that they relied on state of the art infrastructure. With no electricity, there is no infrastructure.
Puerto Rico has already managed to attract several of the biotechnology industry’s biggest players. Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, has made tremendous investments in Puerto Rico, and expects to invest another $1 billion over the next four years to expand its manufacturing capacity on the island. The company will expand its existing manufacturing complex in Juncos, and build a new formulation, fill and finish facility. Amgen also expects to add approximately 500 employees in Puerto Rico by 2010. Other biotech companies with a presence in Puerto Rico include Eli Lilly, Ortho Biologics, Abbot Laboratories and Abraxis BioSciences.
In addition to biotech, the island’s flourishing medical device cluster is now one of the largest high tech manufacturing centers in the United States. Major medical device companies such as Baxter, Medtronic, Stryker, Becton Dickinson, U.S. Surgical, Unilever, Roche, and Guidant have all made investments in Puerto Rico. 50 percent of all pacemakers and defibrillators sold in the U.S. mainland are manufactured in Puerto Rico, and the island’s manufacturers shipped more than $2 billion worth of medical/scientific devices in 2003.
Edited to add a snippet on the industry.