Story at a glance

  • Gov. Newsom issued a press release stating that 35 disaster relief experts will help Puerto Rico recover from devastating earthquakes.
  • The delegation will consist of emergency management, engineering experts and crisis counselors.
  • The delegation will stay on the island for 16 days.

The state of California sent a delegation of disaster relief specialists to earthquake-stricken Puerto Rico on Sunday.

The U.S territory is reeling from two back-to-back 6.4 and 5.9-magnitude quakes that caused large-scale damage in the southern regions of the islandspecifically in Guayanilla, Ponce, Yauco and Guánica counties. 

After a request for assistance from Puerto Rico, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services deployed 35 specialists. 

“California stands with the people of Puerto Rico," said California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a statement. "Our nation-size state knows first-hand the devastating toll of natural disasters and we will provide aid and support as our brothers and sisters rebuild and recover.”

Reports estimate that there are almost 5,000 refugees from the southwest region of the island in 28 shelters across 14 municipalities. Access to power and water have been lost as the infrastructure was damaged.

The team from California will be made up of experts in emergency management, engineering and safety assessment, planning, public information distribution, crisis counseling and debris management. The team will collaborate with local law enforcement and first responders. 

The 35-person Incident Management Team (IMT) will stay on the island for 16 days.

Prior to this deployment, California sent 20 skilled firefighters abroad to help Australia fight the bushfires that have decimated millions of acres. 

Published on Jan 13, 2020