The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), in partnership with Seventh-day Adventist church leaders in Puerto Rico, has been spearheading relief efforts in Guayanilla, Sabana Grande, Yauco, Ponce, Barrio Guaypao, Bo La Luna, and Jagua Pasto, after a series of earthquakes struck the southwestern part of the island from late December 2019 into early 2020.
A 5.2-magnitude earthquake on January 15, 2020, was the latest to hit Puerto Rico. The largest and most damaging was a 6.4 magnitude quake on January 7, causing extensive damage and power outages.
ADRA volunteers and local church leaders responded immediately, providing meals around the clock to feed hundreds of people and installing tents for those who lost their homes. Some reports indicate that houses rebuilt after the devastation of Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017 were decimated once more by the recent quakes.
“We haven’t felt so many earthquakes rock our hometowns like this before,” said David Sebastian, communications director for ADRA in Puerto Rico. “People won’t go inside their homes for fear of more tremors and are sleeping in their cars because the ground won’t stop trembling.”
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), more than 1,280 earthquakes have rattled the island’s southern region since December 28. The latest earthquake occurred near Guanica, where seismologists in southern Puerto Rico are trying to discover answers behind the frequent and unusual shaking.
Government officials say the earthquakes destroyed hundreds of homes and caused an estimated US$200 million in damage. Almost 8,000 people have sought shelter.
“ADRA has forged relationships with United Airlines, Airlink, Latter-day Saints Charities, and the Adventist Community Services to offer needed items to those most affected,” Sebastian said.
Through these partnerships, ADRA will be able to deliver 200 tents and more than 1,500 blankets to communities they are serving.
“We are calling for everyone to serve, and this is the moment to do it,” Sebastian said. “You might not be able to be in Puerto Rico to help, but your support is still very much needed. ADRA counts on you to help.”