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US: Puerto Rico Lacked Leadership, Communication Post-Storm

FILE - Power lines lay broken after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Oct. 16, 2017.

Federal officials are blaming a lack of leadership, money and communication in Puerto Rico for setting back hurricane recovery efforts in the U.S. territory.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Regional Administrator Ahsha Tribble said Thursday that the island's bureaucracy and the power company's inability to pay for supplies have slowed efforts to restore electricity. Nearly half a million power customers remain in the dark more than four months after Hurricane Maria.

Energy experts also said that a lack of maintenance, heavily loaded lines and shoddy work done by Puerto Rico's power company contributed to the power grid's extensive failure after the hurricane.

Officials spoke before a federal control board that oversees the island's finances and is considering a plan to privatize Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority, which is $9 billion in debt.