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Bankrupt Puerto Rico Set for Fresh Hit From Hurricane Irma

Storm nearing cash-strapped U.S. territory of 3.5 million

Puerto Rico, already dealing with a financial disaster, is about to be hit with a natural one.

Hurricane Irma is barreling toward the U.S. territory of 3.5 million residents, raising the prospect of costly damage to a poverty-wracked island that collapsed into a record-setting bankruptcy in May. The storm is expected to pass near or just north of Puerto Rico later Wednesday.

The head of Puerto Rico’s electric company warned some areas could face electricity outages for months. And a devastating blow could accelerate the dramatic population loss that’s driven Puerto Rico’s long economic contraction, said Matt Fabian, a partner with Municipal Market Analytics.

“After 10 years of a recession, the island is not at all prepared for a disaster like Irma,” Fabian said. “And Irma may permanently shrink Puerto Rico and push the island even deeper into poverty.”

Tim Holler