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Cincinnatians aid Puerto Rico after the island is devastated by earthquakes

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 07, 2020

After devastating earthquakes rocked -- and continue to rock -- the United States' territory of Puerto Rico, residents work to get back to their feet. Organizations like Cincinnati for PR have rallied behind the island, and are stepping in to help.

At least one person is dead, and many homes are severely damaged following the 6.4 magnitude earthquake. Officials have shut down the island's vulnerable power grid -- leaving many in darkness.

Puerto Rico hasn't seen a significant earthquake like this in 102 years -- back in 1918. While residents are used to preparing for hurricanes, the infrastructure of the island was woefully inequipped to handle a major earthquake, and the many aftershock quakes that have followed.

"It took about ten seconds from the electricity to be off and start shaking," said Jorge Machicote, who lives in Carolina, Puerto Rico. "Then we realized it was an earthquake -- and a big one."

The quake struck less than 10 miles off the southwest coast of the island, but could be felt all over. Homes were torn off their foundations, power poles were snapped and a famous landmark, The Punta Ventana, was destroyed.

"They're saying this is not over," said Machicote. "They're saying this is going to be for a few days."

With no end in sight, and many aftershocks since, Machicote said he keeps up with the tremors with an app on his phone. It sends alerts each time an aftershock quake ripples through. Monday morning's earthquake came less than a day after a 5.8 earthquake, and hundreds of smaller earthquakes since December 28, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At least 29 of the earthquakes were over a magnitude 4.0.

"The last earthquake in Puerto Rico was in 1918 -- that's a little over 100 years ago and structurally it's worlds apart from 1918 to 2020 in Puerto Rico," said Anamar Naish, president and co-founder of Cincinnati for PR.

The non-profit organization sent 150 pounds of goods to the island after Hurricane Maria and Irma, and now they're fundraising for earthquake relief aid.

"We've been able to save, knowing for hurricane seasons that are coming," said Naish. "Now this is a new event we haven't dealt with before -- we don't really know what people need."

Power has yet to return to areas of Puerto Rico, and right now there are just a few flights left to leave the island -- and the remaining seats are expensive, ranging from $600 to $1,600.