MOROVIS, Puerto Rico — Three days before Christmas, Doris Martinez and daughter Miriam Narvaez joined their neighbors in a line outside city hall in Morovis, a town of 30,000 people still living without electricity in the mountains of central Puerto Rico more than three months after Hurricane Maria battered the U.S. island.

They waited two hours under the searing sun for their twice-a-week handout – 24 bottles of water and a cardboard box filled with basic foods such as tortillas, canned vegetables and cereal.

Martinez, a 73-year-old cancer survivor, balanced the water atop the food and picked her way up a steep hill to the home where she lives alone, washing and wringing out her clothes by hand and locking herself in at night, afraid of robbers. Her 53-year-old daughter loaded her food and water into her car and drove off to the public housing complex where she would then have to wait with dozens of other neighbors in another line to cook on one of six gas burners in the administrator’s office.

“Things are not good,” Narvaez said as she headed toward home.

This is life in Puerto Rico more than three months after Maria destroyed the island’s electrical grid. Gov. Ricardo Rossello promised in mid-October to restore 95 percent of electricity delivery by Dec. 15, but normality remains far off. Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority says its system is generating at 70 percent of normal but it has no way of knowing how widely electricity is being distributed because the system that measures that isn’t working.

A study conducted Dec. 11 by a group of local engineers estimated roughly 50 percent of the island’s 3.3 million people remained without power. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said it likely won’t be until May that all of Puerto Rico is electrified.

Local and federal officials blame the rough terrain and extensive damage for delaying restoration of a power infrastructure that was in dire need of maintenance due to Puerto Rico’s 11-year-old recession. A growing number of Puerto Ricans say officials didn’t prepare for the hurricane and didn’t activate a mutual aid agreement with power companies on the U.S. mainland quickly enough.

Government crews reconnected a handful of areas in Morovis over the weekend for the first time since the storm, but in the hundreds of neighborhoods and towns without power this holiday season, people are alternately despairing, furious, resigned, and sometimes in disbelief that the United States remains unable to help restore power to its citizens more than 90 days after a natural disaster.

Despite the widespread damage, it is the lack of electricity that sometimes appears to affect people the most.

“I haven’t been able to assimilate everything that has happened,” says Maria Rivera. “When night falls, you start growing anxious, depressed. Everything has changed … Sometimes I go to places that have power and I tell my husband, ‘I don’t want to go back.’ “