With Widespread Power Failures, Puerto Rico Is Cash Only

October 1st, 2017

Via: New York Times:

Juan Jimenez squinted into the dark lobby of his bank early Friday, thinking about the paycheck sitting in his account, just behind the locked doors. If only he could get to it.

With power failures and communications outages still widespread nine days after Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico has become a cash-only island for Mr. Jimenez and others who desperately need to buy food, gasoline and ice from stores that cannot run credit cards, take phone payments or process electronic government benefits.

“You’re broke even if you have money,” Mr. Jimenez, 40, said.

Fewer than half of Puerto Rico’s bank branches and cash machines are up and running, still crippled by diesel shortages, damaged roads and severed communications lines. Bank officials say they are struggling even to find employees who can get to work when there is no public transportation and gasoline is hard to find.

Across the island, people who have spent their last dollars on an $8 bag of ice or $15 for gasoline are waiting for hours outside banks and A.T.M.s in hopes of withdrawing as much money as possible.

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