Puerto Rico Earthquakes Response

January 13, 2020–Unprecedented seismic activity in Puerto Rico–where many islanders continue to grapple with the effects of and challenges created by Hurricane Maria in late 2017–has shaken the territory this month, causing new damage to structures and roads and a widespread power outage. A magnitude 6.4 tremor (the largest in a series of recent quakes, including a magnitude 5.8 on Monday, January 6th) hit Puerto Rico early Tuesday, January 7th, triggering an additional 35+ aftershocks and collapsing many homes and structures, including a historic landmark and some popular tourist attractions. On Saturday, January 10th, another major quake–a magnitude 5.9 aftershock from the earlier quakes–shook the country again, bringing new damage and worsening fear and further devastating the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in impacted communities.


Across the island, survivors are assessing damage and facing new challenges as homes, businesses, schools and other structures have been reduced to rubble. Tens of thousands of people are without power, and some experts predict it will be many months until it is restored. As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the island’s already fragile power structure will likely take a long time to repair. Meanwhile, many people have been displaced and/or are now without access to clean drinking water and food. Officials say damage has already exceeded $110 million in the territory, and the Governor has already declared a state of emergency and disbursed some funding to the hardest hit areas. Recovery from these earthquakes will take many months, or likely years, as islanders work to rebuild homes and livelihoods, and infrastructure is repaired.


Our thoughts are with all those in Puerto Rico at this time. We’ve seen firsthand the catastrophic devastation on the island since Maria struck, and know how this latest string of disasters compounds damage and exacerbates already-vulnerable conditions. OpUSA has worked with partners in Puerto Rico previously, and will rely on existing partnerships to identify new opportunities to provide support and relief at this time. Your donations to our fundraising efforts for Puerto Rico will allow for the delivery of material aid, the provision of cash grants to community-based partners and the development of long-term recovery projects. Every gift helps, especially major gifts which will expedite the delivery of aid–if you, your employer or someone you know would like to sponsor a special project in Puerto Rico, please contact mdolan@opusa.org.


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