Two years after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, the country is hit once again with disaster — Multiple earthquakes of significant magnitude, the largest the country has felt in over 100 years. The natural disasters of the past few weeks have taken homes, lives, and many of Puerto Rico's popular attractions. As the island faces a fight for survival, it is being stonewalled by politics. Conflicts between the Puerto Rican government and the President of the United States have put the brakes on government-assisted emergency relief funds.
Timeline of Events:
- December 28, 2019: The first earthquake of major magnitude strikes the island. A 4.7 Magnitude quake first, then a larger 5.0 Magnitude in the early hours of the next day.
- December 29, 2019— January 6: Puerto Rico is hit with over 500 more earthquakes 2.0 Magnitude and higher in the form of aftershocks.
- January 7, 2020, 4:24 AM Local Time: Puerto Rico is rocked awake by a Magnitude 6.4 earthquake (100x stronger than the one felt on December 28th). The epicenter of the disaster is just off the coast of the southern portion of the island, however, the magnitude is so massive that the entire country feels it.
- January 11, 2020: Puerto Rico is once again struck by disaster when a 5.0 Magnitude earthquake hits.
Following January 7th, Puerto Rico will continue to experience aftershocks for a minimum of 30 more days, varying in strength, but not limited to a possible 3.0 magnitude hit. The earthquakes are so devastating that many of Puerto Rico's natural monuments and tourist attractions have been permanently destroyed.
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Popular tourist attraction, Punta Ventana, before and after the effects of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake on January 6, 2020.
The United States has deployed a team of seismologists to Puerto Rico to investigate the cause and assist in predicting future effects. While the team can read the shockwaves and predict the chance of another strike, they cannot prevent future earthquake damage. The people of Puerto Rico have to deal with the brunt of the damage, many sleeping outside their homes in tents or on the ground, for fear of their home collapsing with them inside.
Unfortunately, for the country, destroyed homes are not the only concern when it comes to these shocks. The last time the island was struck by earthquakes of this magnitude was 1918, resulting in a tsunami that killed 116 people. So far, there are no signs of an impending tsunami wave. However, if the shocks increase in strength again, it could spell danger.
President Trump has a tumultuous relationship with the Puerto Rican government, resulting in a crisis that becomes a conflict of the right versus the left, rather than that of human decency. In an article posted by the New York Times, it is reported that President Trump will release $16 billion in emergency relief funds, but place stringent rules on how the money can be spent. This includes barring the repair of the country's destroyed electrical grid and resources.
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We face many crises in the world, and each of them deserves our attention. Please consider donating to a charitable organization that is helping with the relief fund. While the people in power may be fighting over whose responsibility it is to clean up the island, families are sleeping outside without food or shelter. Put aside your politics and consider the toll taken on the people of Puerto Rico.
Interested in donating or volunteering? Below are a few of the charitable organizations aiding in disaster relief. Everything from clearing rubble to aiding the injured, cooking meals to rebuilding homes.