Residents of the Puerto Rican town of Caomo had collectively rebuilt their own power grid after they got tired of waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help them out.
NBC News reports that citizens in the town have been “pulling power lines from undergrowth and digging holes for wooden posts in a do-it-yourself effort to solve a small part of the United States’ longest-running power outage,” which first occurred starting last October when Hurricane Maria struck the island.
Vice Mayor Edgardo Vazquez tells NBC News that his town had to take this drastic measure because it was unlikely that power would be restored until next summer otherwise.
60-year-old resident Carmita Rivera tells NBC News that she started organizing people to help rebuild the grid after dealing for months with delays in repairs and living in the dark.
“Desperation set in,” she said. “We all felt like: ‘What about us? We’re human beings. Enough is enough.'”
Sue Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, tells NBC News that Caomo’s story is inspiring — but also troubling, as efforts that aren’t coordinated by professional electricians can often result in serious injuries.
“The biggest issue is safety,” she said. “We are making good progress… but uncoordinated efforts can result in death.”