'FRONTLINE: Blackout in Puerto Rico'
(DVD / PG / 2018 / PBS)
Overview: In 'Blackout in Puerto Rico,' FRONTLINE and NPR investigate the humanitarian and economic crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The film examines how the federal response, Wall Street, and years of neglect have left the island struggling to survive.
DVD Verdict: More than seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, more than 100,000 Americans are still without power, as part of the worst blackout in U.S. history.
FRONTLINE and NPR investigate how the federal response in Puerto Rico left millions of Americans in the dark for months - and the storm before the storm: how Wall Street, Puerto Rico's government, and Washington fueled a debt crisis that left the island's economy in ruins and its infrastructure crippled even before Maria hit.
Indeed, the investigative team uncovered a trove of insider documents that show a government relief effort in chaos, struggling with key contracts, basic supplies, and its own workforce.
But what about this now infamous Hurricane Maria itself? Well, Hurricane Maria is now regarded as being the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica and Puerto Rico.
The tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide of 2017, Maria was the thirteenth named storm, eighth consecutive hurricane, fourth major hurricane, second Category 5 hurricane, and the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
At its peak, the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean, compounding recovery efforts in the areas of the Leeward Islands already struck by Hurricane Irma.
Maria was the third consecutive major hurricane to threaten the Leeward Islands in two weeks, after Irma had made landfall in several of the islands two weeks prior and Hurricane Jose passed dangerously close shortly afterward, bringing tropical storm force winds to Barbuda.
'FRONTLINE: Blackout in Puerto Rico', produced with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, uncovers a series of shortcomings after Maria, including how half of FEMA's staff on the island were trainees or unqualified, how contractors FEMA turned to failed to deliver hundreds of thousands of tarps, and how the Army Corps' temporary roof repair program was glaringly slow compared to other storms - putting up just 439 roofs in the first 30 days after the storm compared to more than 4,500 in the first month after Irma in Florida.
Underpinning it all, 'Blackout in Puerto Rico' delves into Wall Street?s role in the island?s economic demise - a crisis that left it dangerously vulnerable to a storm like Maria - and the relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S., including how Congress's withdrawal of a special tax break helped spur the Puerto Rican government's cycle of debt and borrowing.
Gripping and riveting, 'Blackout in Puerto Rico' is a must-watch look inside the ongoing recovery effort in Puerto Rico - and the economic crisis that devastated the island long before Maria. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.