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Earthquakes and Homelessness in Puerto Rico

How an Earthquake affected Homelessness in Puerto Rico
An earthquake registering at a 6.4 magnitude struck Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. Consequently, families are still reeling from its destruction and records state that it was the strongest earthquake in a century. The aftermath of the earthquake has been unbelievable, causing the homelessness in Puerto Rico to spike. Currently, almost 5,000 residents had to move to homeless shelters. Also, there was at least $110 million worth of damage. In addition to the damage, a mass power outage occurred as a result of the earthquake. Reports indicated that nearly all of Puerto Rico did not have access to power.

The Aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake

The last earthquake to register as strong as this one happened in October 1918. That earthquake registered at a magnitude of 7.3 and it took the lives of 116 people.

The latest earthquake has caused havoc throughout Puerto Rico. The aftermath led to 950 earthquakes and aftershocks throughout the area. This has caused even more issues for those who were already going through hardships. Moreover, these aftershocks caused people to evacuate from their homes and seek new places of shelter. Over 200 people took shelter in a nearby gym after an earthquake on Monday, January 6, 2020. However, the 6.4 magnitude earthquake damaged that building and the citizens had to evacuate again.

Homelessness in Puerto Rico After the Hurricanes

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017 placed 10,000 people in shelters all across Puerto Rico. The island is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as thousands are still homeless and struggling as a result of it. The total damage after Hurricane Maria was around $100 billion.

After the earthquake in early 2020, 5,000 residents remained in homeless shelters even after Puerto Rico restored power. In addition, there are still others who choose to sleep outside of their homes, in order to avoid the damage from aftershocks.

Tourism

The country is planning to use tourism to get the economy back on track and reduce the alarming rate of homelessness in Puerto Rico. Ricardo Rossello and his administration are attempting to encourage visitors to continue to visit the island. They want visitors to continue to show their support for the Island as tourism is vital to recovering the economy.

IsraAID

IsraAID came to the rescue to provide aid for those homeless due to the damage of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Puerto Rico in early 2020. This organization has been assisting and helping around Puerto Rico since the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused in 2017. Some teams have been in Puerto Rico since the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

In early 2020, IsraAID initially went to the heart of the damage that the 6.4 magnitude earthquake caused to evaluate and determine what its first steps of assistance should be. It determined where teams should go to provide first aid, clean water, sanitation and psychological assistance.

In the case of Hurricane Maria, IsraAID and other volunteers provided food and water to over 6,000 citizens in six different communities throughout Puerto Rico. The organization set up its own mobile clinics and assisted hundreds of citizens in the poorest areas throughout Puerto Rico. Since this was one of the most catastrophic storms in history, there were a lot of mental health issues related to this event. IsraAID provided mental health treatments and psychological support and assistance to citizens.

Initially, IsraAID set out to assist and help in any way that it could. Since then, its efforts have extended into maintaining resiliency against natural disasters. The organization started working on two projects after Hurricane Maria to ensure and create resilience, working with nearby schools and creating a clean water filtration system in the remote community of El Real.

The current 6.4 magnitude earthquake caused chaos adding up to $110 million worth of damage along with increasing homelessness to 5,000 residents. Tourism could help the economy of Puerto Rico recover while Israeli nonprofit organization IsraAID has been of huge assistance to the residents of Puerto Rico. With continued support, Puerto Rico should be able to reduce its homelessness and improve its economy in the aftermath of its most recent devastating earthquakes.

Jamal Patterson
Photo: Flickr