puerto rico earthquake damage

Puerto Rican Earthquakes

On the dawn of Jan 7, 2020, there was a 6.4 earthquake that rattled Puerto Rico, hitting in the southwest sector of the island; towns such as Guayanilla, Ponce, Guánica and Yauco were severely shaken by the quaking. Many buildings were damaged, some even destroyed, and blackouts occurred across the entire island. Fearing aftershocks, people decided to live in their cars or camped outside.

Kelly Franceschini, a resident living in Guayanilla explained, “I felt as if the house was a small box of cardboard being shaken up by the outside.”

The 6.4 quake killed one person and injured several others. Puerto Rican Governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency for the whole island of Puerto Rico. Just three hours after the 6.4 quake hit the island, a 6.0 earthquake aftershock once again rattled the entire island. The quake caused many to wonder if there was going to be an earthquake bigger than the original quake. As of Feb. 13, there has not been a bigger earthquake than the initial 6.4 earthquake.

According to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, “These earthquakes could cost Puerto Rico’s economy up to $3.1 billion.” There have been over 1,000 aftershocks that have disturbed the island and these aftershocks are still continuing to impact the whole island.

Unfortunately, there are still over 3,000 people who are displaced and are struggling in the wake of this most recent tragedy. Franceschini later added, “It makes me uncomfortable and upset. Thinking that they have lost everything, the earthquake was a terrifying experience alone, but to lose your home because of it is heartbreaking.”

To make matters worse, on Jan. 18 of this year, citizens in the southern part of Puerto Rico found a full warehouse of unused aid from Hurricane Maria, which would have helped people who lost their homes and were struggling to live in the elements presently. Upon their discovery, citizens were outraged, as the government was keeping this secret from them as well as not allocating the found ample supplies. The island’s governor Wanda Vázquez was quick to fire the island’s emergency director.

Organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Hispanic Federation (HF) are handing out food to those who have been impacted by the earthquakes and are now struggling to recover any degree of normalcy. 

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