5 Ways to Help in the Aftermath of the Puerto Rico Earthquakes
The US territory is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.
Millions of people remain without electricity and water in Puerto Rico after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast on Tuesday, according to CNN.
The powerful earthquake was followed by dozens of smaller tremors that could be felt throughout the island. At least one person has died from the ruptures.
In addition to heavy damage to critical infrastructure like hospitals and water plants, the earthquakes also caused homes and buildings to collapse in areas nearest the impact zone.
Utility companies are racing to restore access to electricity and water, and managed to bring back power to nearly half a million customers by Tuesday morning, the New York Times reported.
In the weeks and months ahead, the government will work with humanitarian organizations and local charities to help communities return to normal.
Here are five ways you can help the relief effort.
1. Donate to Humanitarian Organizations
Freddy Martinez, right, borrows a blood pressure monitor from Ruben Rodriguez Quiles after an earthquake hit Guanica, Puerto Rico, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.
In the coming weeks, displaced people throughout Puerto Rico will need temporary shelter, food, water, and health care. Roads, hospitals, and schools will need to be repaired. People traumatized by the destruction caused by the earthquakes will need mental health assistance.
Humanitarian organizations, experienced in natural disaster recovery efforts, are well-suited to meet these emerging demands. Teams from a range of organizations have been deployed to the island to assist.
2. Donate to Groups Providing Food
Suhaile Tiro Acosta and his one-year son, Ian Echevarrias Tiro, rest outside a shelter afraid of aftershocks, after an earthquake in Guanica, Puerto Rico, Jan. 7, 2020.
The earthquake has disrupted life for millions of people across Puerto Rico. This is especially true for the 43.5% of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty. While food may have already been difficult for some to access beforehand, the earthquake will likely have made it more challenging as local grocery stores may have been damaged, sources of incomes may have been disrupted, and widespread displacement may leave people cut off from their resources.
Organizations like Feeding America provide year-long food pantries to communities in need, whereas the World Central Kitchen, run by Chef José Andrés, is preparing meals for those affected by the quakes.
3. Call Your Representatives
The United States Congress has the ability to accelerate the recovery effort in Puerto Rico by approving emergency relief funds for the island. Part of the reason the island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria is because Congress failed to disburse enough funds for the scale of the damage.
US representatives, including candidates for the Democratic presidential primary, are calling on the White House to mobilize funds.
You can ensure that your local and state politicians prioritize Puerto Rico’s recovery by giving them a call today. Here’s a guide on how to call a politician.
4. Support Crowdfunding Efforts
If you want to support highly localized and specific relief efforts, you can donate to crowdfunding efforts. Crowdfunding is an effective way to support Puerto Ricans who need immediate assistance. Before you donate to a crowdfunding campaign, however, do your due diligence to make sure it’s legitimate.
5. Learn About the Situation
The Immaculate Concepcion Catholic church lies in ruins after an overnight earthquake in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, Jan. 7, 2020.
News about the earthquake is still incomplete. The full story will unfold in the weeks and months ahead as government agencies assess the damage and reporters visit affected communities. In the meantime, set up a Google alert about the earthquake or sign up to get email updates from a relief organization that you trust.