Want to Help the Victims of the Puerto Rico Earthquakes? Here's How

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the island of Puerto Rico on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours later another 5.8 earthquake hit the island.

The earthquake, which was centered off the coast of southwest Puerto Rico, was the island’s strongest quake since 1918, CBS News reported. The quake struck the island just before 4:30 a.m. local time and was followed by a 5.6 tremor and dozens of aftershocks, according to the Weather Channel. The island has been experiencing small earthquakes throughout the region since December 28.

Tuesday’s earthquake destroyed buildings, knocked out power and caused panic throughout an island that is still trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which struck in 2017 and left it more than $70 billion in debt. One 73-year-old man was killed during the quake when a wall collapsed on him at his home in the city of Ponce, according to the Associated Press. The quakes have also caused the collapse of a natural seaside landmark known as the Punta Ventana (Window Point).

How Trump and Democrats are responding

On Tuesday, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) announced that President Donald Trump had signed an emergency declaration which will send federal emergency aid to the ravaged island. Yet, Democratic presidential candidates still took jabs at the Trump administration by alluding to the lack of federal support Puerto Rico received after Hurricane Maria.

“We must do everything we can to help Puerto Rico — which is still rebuilding from Hurricane Maria two years ago — in the wake of this earthquake. Time and time again the Trump administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico. That has got to end,” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) wrote on Twitter.

“My thoughts are with our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico in the wake of last night’s earthquakes. As they rise to overcome another tragedy, Puerto Ricans must be assured that this administration will act quickly to provide any federal support needed,” Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, wrote on Twitter.

“My thoughts are with Puerto Rico and our fellow Americans affected by this earthquake. The administration must provide all needed disaster relief without delay,” wrote Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar on Twitter.

Democratic members of Congress also wrote a letter to Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), demanding his department release the $8.3 billion in aid to Puerto Rico that was appropriated in June. The aid was approved by Congress after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island and was supposed to be released by September 4, according to the letter.

“We don’t know yet whether additional funds will be needed to help Puerto Rico recover from these recent earthquakes, but we know that withholding previously approved resources following this latest catastrophe is simply inexcusable,” Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) said in a statement.

“Today, we are demanding that HUD follow the law and provide Puerto Rico with the assistance they were previously allocated.”

How You Can Help

To help the people of Puerto Rico following the earthquakes, here are some organizations that are taking donations:

  • The Hispanic Federation Unidos program: When Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017, the Hispanic Federation created the UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program to bring food, water and essentials to those reeling in the aftermath of the storm. In a statement, organization President Frankie Miranda said thanks to the support it has been given, it has nonprofits on the ground “ready to provide emergency relief and long-term support to those affected by the quake and the ensuing aftershocks.” The federation also has a mental health initiative in partnership with the University of Puerto Rico to provide mental health services across the island. To donate, click here.

  • American Red Cross: The Red Cross said in a statement it is currently on the ground helping the people of Puerto Rico. In addition to giving out supplies, the Red Cross said 877 people stayed in its shelters following the earthquake. To donate, click here, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a donation.

  • World Central Kitchen: On Tuesday, Chef José Andrés, who runs WCK, said on Twitter they were “cooking soon” for the people of Puerto Rico following the earthquake. The organization prepares meals for those affected by disasters. The organization stated it would also be handing out solar lamps provided by the Hispanic Federation to areas in Puerto Rico that have been affected the hardest. To donate, click here.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.