Resilience Natural Disasters

‘How we are living is horrible:’ Puerto Ricans without shelter after deadly quake

puerto rico earthquake 6.4 wanda vasquez vásquez trump president donald white house living outside homeless buildings encampments highway terror fear collapse guánicaaid relief

Story at a glance

  • The earthquake that jolted southern Puerto Rico has caused severe structural damage.
  • Residents of Guánica, the town hit the hardest, sleep outdoors in encampments with little to no power.
  • President Trump and Governor Vásquez have declared a state of emergency and are coordinating disaster relief efforts.

Since a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Puerto Rico Tuesday morning, residents in the southern municipality of Guánica have been without power and in some cases have resorted to sleeping outside, according to reports

Guánica and the surrounding areas have been rocked by multiple earthquakes since late last month. 

Fearing more building collapses, some homeowners have created overnight encampments on the side of highways, one county official says. Residents have also reported to the Associated Press that access to power and water are scarce. 

“The people are afraid to enter their homes,” said Guánica Mayor Santos Seda. “The emotional health of our town, as I said from moment zero that occurred on December 28, is what concerns me the most because of the immediacy of the emergency. How we are living is horrible.”

Seda added that there are more than 174 homes in the town, and approximately 50 have completely collapsed, with the rest being cracked and on the brink of collapsing. He also notes that Guánica has lost businesses, and government buildings are in fragile conditions because of the frequent tremors. 

Psychologists have not only been making rounds throughout the community urging people to “shake their fears,’ but also expressing uncertainty about the continuation of the quakes and aftershocks. 

Both Gov. Wanda Vásquez and President Trump have declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico. Vásquez has already allocated $130 million to disaster relief efforts and is in communication with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.