An update from Interim Director Doris Garcia on the earthquake that hit Puerto Rico (amongst other countries) early on the morning of January 7. We will continue to post updates and ways people can help as we see them.
This morning's earthquake of 6.4 hit the southern part of the island, just after a 5.8 magnitude was reported in the same area on Monday morning. There have been 51 aftershocks. Hundreds of structures - mostly houses, some schools and old historical buildings have been damaged, and there are 346 persons at different refugee centers with several hundreds more moving out of the southern parts of country to the north of the island with families and friends, or to the United States. Several bridges collapsed and are closed while some roads have been also affected by rock slides.
So far, the towns of Yauco, Ponce, Peñuelas, Guanica and Guayanilla have been affected - the last two being the most. Most of the island is without power as two power centrals - Costa Sur and Ecoelectrica - sustained heavy structural damages. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority system has not been able to define a time for when power will be restored. It seems that we could be without electricity from several days to one or two weeks.
This is all a huge wound for Puerto Ricans as we are still healing from the aftermath of hurricane Maria, and trying to solve the bankruptcy process amidst 14 years of economic recession, a continuously shrinking population and political corruption. The memory of hurricane Maria, its 3,000 deaths and its emotional, social, economic and political scars are an ever present nightmare as Maria's reconstruction efforts came to practically a halt due to the corruption of the government and the restrictions on the disbursement of funds from the federal government afterwards.The present governor Wanda Vazquez declared a state of emergency and the National Guard have been activated to help in several of areas.
People are tired and anxious as they try to face yet another challenge. Thousands went to supermarkets, groceries stores and gas stations in fear of more earthquakes or an extended period without gas, electricity and water. The elder population in these towns have been greatly affected for these are impoverished towns with high numbers of elderly people.
The Rev. Edgardo Caraballo, Regional Executive Minister of the ABC-Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico has activated the team and a network of churches is prepared to face national emergencies while also responding to the Baptist churches damaged by the earthquake. As far as I know, two colleague pastors left their homes due to the damages their houses sustained.
Please, pray for Puerto Rico, for our children, for our elders and most of all that we can rise up to this moment with faith, solidarity and resilience. Pray that the earth be kind and give Puerto Ricans a needed respite and rest.