Puerto Rico: Electrical & Infrastructure recovery post-Maria
Puerto Rico suffered severe damage from the category 5 hurricane (Maria) in September 2017. Total monetary damages are estimated to be ~92 billion USD, the third most costly tropical cyclone in US history. The response to this damage has been tempered and slow moving, and the blackout as a result of Maria has been identified as the largest in US history and the second largest in world history.
Consequently, we developed a unique data-fusion mapping approach and the first independent remote sensing assessment of the recovery of electricity and infrastructure in Puerto Rico. Our approach incorporates a combination of time series visualizations and change detection mapping to create depictions of power or infrastructure loss and identify areas that are still struggling to recover. For this workflow, our approach leverages CometTS and combines VIIRS nighttime imagery, multispectral imagery from two Landsat satellites, US Census data, and crowd-sourced building footprint labels.
Based upon our analysis, we successfully identify and evaluate: 1) the recovery of electrical power compared to pre-storm levels, 2) the location of potentially damaged infrastructure that has yet to recover from the storm, and 3) the number of persons without power over time. As of May 31, 2018, declined levels of observed brightness across the island indicate that 13.9% +/- ~5.6% of persons still lack power and/or that 13.2% +/- ~5.3% of infrastructure has been lost. In comparison, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority states that less than 1% of their customers still are without power, which appears to be a substantial underestimation based upon our findings.
In this blog we are pleased to showcase some of the results of this analysis and to release a paper :
The following figures, videos, and methods are described in depth in the paper. A full presentation on this research will occur at the SPIE Remote Sensing Conference in Berlin, Germany (September 10-13, 2018).