North American Mission Board Serves Survivors After Earthquake in Puerto Rico

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of Puerto Rico near Guánica. At least one fatality has been reported, and dozens of structures have been leveled. People have been afraid to stay inside their homes for fear of the continuing aftershocks. Photo provided by NAMB

YAUCO, Puerto Rico — “People are still very scared,” Jonathan Santiago said of residents in Puerto Rico who endured a 6.4 magnitude earthquake early Tuesday morning (Jan. 7). The ensuing aftershocks and tremors have been ongoing, and it is nearly impossible to predict when they will cease.

Santiago, a North American Mission Board (NAMB) Send Relief missionary in Puerto Rico, has been traveling throughout the island to coordinate a response through local churches.

“Most of the homes I passed, people were outside their houses not inside,” Santiago said. “There were mattresses and tents set out in yards because people were too afraid to sleep in their homes.”

An estimated 80 percent of the island was without power Tuesday evening, and 24 percent were without water due to those power outages affecting pumping systems. Service slowly began returning to customers Wednesday morning according to Reuters, and officials expect power to return to much of the island within a day or two assuming no further earthquakes strike.

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez declared a state of emergency, and President Donald Trump also signed an emergency declaration.

Santiago has been working with three churches in the most affected areas on the south side of the island. Emergency resources such as food and water that Send Relief had stored in case of natural disaster have been delivered to Iglesia Bautista La Gracia (Grace Baptist Church) in Yauco and Iglesia de la Comunidad (Community Church) in Guayanilla after dozens of residents arrived seeking help and shelter.

“The mayor of Yauco has recognized the church there as one of the town’s official shelters. So, we are looking to plan accordingly for possibly more people to arrive,” said Santiago.

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Source: Baptist Press