SAN JOSE, Calif. - At least one person has been killed in a strong earthquake in Puerto Rico. The magnitude 6.4 quake damaged dozens of buildings on the southern coast of the island. More than 150 people had to be evacuated from other buildings in danger of collapsing. including elderly people in a nursing home. Thousands of people are without electricity or running water.
Maria Campbell is the president of the Puerto Rican Civic Club of San Jose. She’s there on vacation, to visit family and for community service work. She said nothing prepared them for the quakes that have hit the island this week.
“I wish I could tell you what I see in my people,” said Campbell. “I can’t explain what I see in their faces. This is not familiar for them. Because of Hurricane Maria, they are barely recovering. They are not 100 percent and for them to have to go through this again
for them, it’s unknown.”
The quake hit the island’s southern coast at 4:30 a.m. local time. By dawn, the damage was evident and devastating. Homes and buildings were toppled and knocked from their foundations. Several bridges collapsed. The region's power authority reported damage to the island's main power plants.
“Eighty-five percent of the island has no power,” said Campbell. “They don’t expect power to be restored for at least two weeks.”
Campbell is 50 miles away from the quake’s epicenter. She woke up to the quake, scrambled to get her belongings and run.
“Normally I feel them in California, it sways back and forth, this one was literally shaking the ground,” said Campbell.
Seismologists said Tuesday’s earthquake is the largest in a series of quakes this week. The North American plate and Carribean plate is squeezing the island.
“They just had hope they were getting back to normal even though it was very minimal normal, now they have to go through the whole process again,” said Angela Tirado of San Jose.
Tirado has family and friends in Puerto Rico. She’s saddened popular tourist landmark, the Punta Ventana was destroyed. It’s a historic natural icon that can only now be seen in books.
Back on the island, Campbell said islanders fear of a bigger quake.
“We’ve felt 63 aftershocks,” said Campbell. “One of them was 4.2 so they are pretty strong aftershocks”
Puerto Rico’s governor has declared a state of emergency. The Puerto Rican Civic Club of San Jose is accepting monetary donations to help the people of Puerto Rico, especially since hundreds of families are now homeless.
If you'd like to help, visit: http://www.puertoricancivicclub.org/