FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

David Lumb
FCC creates hurricane task force to aid recovery in Puerto Rico

Days after the agency pledged $77 million to fix communications on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, newly-reconfirmed FCC Chair Ajit Pai announced the creation of the Hurricane Recovery Task Force. It's dedicated to repairing damage caused by the entire season's slew of storms, but will focus on fixing the communications networks on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the latter of which was so damaged that almost 90 percent of its cell towers were downed by Hurricane Maria.

Michael Carowitz, special counsel to Pai, will chair the task force, which will consist of folks from across the agency. It will basically operate as an internal group focusing the FCC's recovery efforts while the agency as a whole continues operating.

"As we shift from short-term incident management to a longer-term recovery phase, it makes sense to adjust the structure of the FCC's response. In the weeks and months to come, the Commission will be confronting a wide range of storm-related issues that fall within the jurisdiction of numerous bureaus and offices," Pai said in a statement. "It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services. The Hurricane Recovery Task Force will allow us to do just that."

Most of the recovery news has rightly focused on the difficult journey to get Puerto Rico's power grid back online. Private companies have stepped up to that challenge, like Tesla sending its Powerwall batteries and technicians (an effort that may be upgraded to building out PR's next grid, given the positive Twitter exchange between Governor Ricardo Rossello and Tesla CEO Elon Musk). But communications are important, too, enough for Facebook to send its connectivity team to the US commonwealth.