The largest blackout in U.S. history by far was Hurricane Maria, which left hundreds of thousands of residents in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without power for more than 100 days total. This was not only the biggest, but also the longest blackout in U.S. history.
When Hurricane Maria hit, Puerto Rico was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma (the 4th largest blackout) from only two weeks prior—meaning roughly 80,000 people were already without power as Maria approached.
The real takeaways can be gleaned from the aftermath. Roughly three weeks after the hurricane subsided, 58% of waste water treatment plants were relying on backup generators for power, and only a quarter of hospitals had functioning electricity.
Over 90% of Puerto Rico was disconnected from the main power grid, and the New York Times deemed the region “Generator Island.”
“Generators now power big-box stores, high-rise apartment buildings, auto shops, fast-food restaurants, wastewater treatment plants and little country homes,” the 2017 article says.
Here’s the bottom line: very few (if any) residential, commercial, and public facilities can function in modern society without power. We rely on electricity for food, water, sewage, and municipalities. Without reliable backup power, we set ourselves up for the potential loss of any and all of these basic necessities.
Don’t get caught in the dark. We’ve compiled a number of resources for your home and business in the event of a major outage: