Emergency Declared in Puerto Rico after 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake

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On Tuesday, January 7th, Puerto Rico was hit with its highest magnitude earthquake since 1918.  The quake reduced many homes to rubble, and at least one man was reported dead.  After 2017’s Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico in distress for months, people thought they would be prepared for the next disaster.  However, a Puerto Rican citizen stated “It’s scarier than the water that Maria brought”, another noting “I prefer Maria.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like they’ve seen the last of earthquakes for a while.  This was the second one in two days, and there is reportedly no telling when the seismic activity will cease.

The Puerto Rico government sent workers to some damaged areas with the message that power would be restored soon, in an attempt to calm fears that they would be left as hopeless as they were after Hurricane Maria.  Many homes are still not fully restored after the 2017 storm, and a lot of the aid promised by the government has still not been distributed.

Reportedly 2,200 people have sought refuge in 18 shelters, many still suffering from the effects of Maria.  Guayanilla resident Tatiana Rodriguez worries that recovery will be difficult, especially for those hit hard by Maria, she said.  The town of 18,000 located on the southern coast hasn’t been getting any regular updates, and are advised against leaving their homes as no one really knows what areas are safe.

As for schooling, students and teachers won’t return until a full evaluation of all schools is done.  The roof of a middle school on the southern coast completely collapsed, and nearly all school buildings don’t have power.

Richard S. Olson, director of the Extreme Events Institute at Florida International University said that “the sense of helplessness is exacerbated when there is little faith that government officials are getting infrastructure ready for quakes and storms.”

President Donald Trump’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures to save lives and protect property.