4 5 DEC. 2017 / JAN. 2018 Opening Lines I f Caribbean governments can’t afford to rebuild their islands,maybe big tech firms can? November 20marked the end of theAtlantic hurricane season,but for the Caribbean,it’s only the beginning of a painful recoveryprocess.In earlySep- tember,Hurricane Irma largelydestroyed Barbuda and several neighboring LesserAntilles islands.Twoweeks later,Maria tooka final fatal stab at Barbuda and en- tirelyknocked out Puerto Rico. According toThe Economist,damage from Irma alone tallies up toUS$13 billion.Totals for the entire 2017hurricane season remain unclear,but Puerto Rico Gov.Roberto Rosello’s recent request for $94.4 billion in aid gives some sense of Maria’s toll. Nomatter the final price tag,recovery is sure to be unpayable in a regionwhere 30 percent of people live in povertyand the per capita gross domesticproduct averages under $9,000 a year,versus $57,000 in the United States. Andwhile France,Holland,and the United Kingdom have come to the assistance of their territories in the region,independent Caribbean nations like Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda,and Cuba have no such obvious sponsors.Their economies shattered by storms–and, REBUILDINGTHE CARIBBEANWILL BE PRICEY, BUT SOME AREVYING TO FINANCE ITS RECOVERY in some cases,shackled bydebt–some Caribbean nations fear theymaynever recover. But behind the scenes,numerous international players are actually racing to rebuild the Caribbean, from tech companies andwealthy individuals to far- flungcountries.Bigcorporations seeanopportunityinthe Caribbean’s recovery. Tesla,inparticular,seems tohaveavisionforhowthe regioncouldrebuild inamore renewableandresilient way.TheCalifornia-basedelectric-car companyhas committedtosendingtothe islandhundredsof itsPow- erwall batterysystems,whichcouldbepairedwithsolar panels toget theelectricgridupandrunningagain.For themillionsofPuertoRicanswhosepowerhasbeenout forover twomonths,thismaycomeaswelcomenews. Andthoughsomeexpertshavequestionedhowmuch it wouldreallyhelp,Tesladidmanage toturnthe lightson at theSan JuanChildren’sHospital backinOctober. PuertoRico isn’t theonlyCaribbeancountrywithan inadequateenergygrid.Across the region,outmoded systemdesigns that relyon a fewplants for power pro- ductionmake complete blackoutsmuch higher than grid systems that have an even distribution of power generation. Behind the scenes, numerous international players are actually racing to rebuild the Caribbean, from tech companies and wealthy individuals to far-flung countries. Big corporations see an opportunity in the Caribbean’s recovery.