One month after the massive quake that shook the island of Puerto Rico, people are still on edge as earthquakes continue, including a magnitude 5 earthquake that hit earlier this week. It was the 11th earthquake of at least that size in 30 days, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The American Red Cross is there, supporting people impacted by the ongoing tremors.
The emotional toll caused by the quakes is evident with more than a thousand people remaining in the government-run shelters. Others are staying outside because of their fear that another tremor will hit. Many of the communities are still recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
“This is an earthquake prone area and there are tremors almost daily,” said Bill Martin, a Red Cross of South Carolina volunteer from the Lowcountry.
Martin is serving as the External Relations Government Operations Manager at the Disaster Operations Headquarters in San Jaun, Puerto Rico.
“We sit in the Emergency Operations Center and share what is going on with the Red Cross with the other governmental and non-governmental partners that are here,” said Martin. “I have been involved with the Red Cross since 1997 and have been deployed dozens of times. It is a chance for me to provide some administrative and compassion to people that are in real distress.”
Martin was in the headquarters last week when an earthquake hit.
“It was more than a tremor, it was an earthquake. Our building shook for between 1-3 seconds and I realized after the shaking, I said, ‘Wow, I think that was an earthquake,’” said Martin.
Martin will be deployed for roughly two weeks in this role.
“This is a very resilient population. From the reports and pictures that I have seen, I mean, I get damaged assessment pictures of homes that are destroyed,” said Martin. “Everybody is thankful that they are alive and working with their neighbors to figure out how they are going to recover and move ahead. I hear very positive reports regarding the status of the clients and survivors.”
WHAT THE RED CROSS IS DOING
More than 200 trained Red Cross disaster workers are still on the ground, supporting people staying in government shelters, distributing items like blankets, water and hygiene kits, and offering health and mental health services. To further care for the health and wellbeing of those affected, Red Cross volunteers are visiting local communities and knocking on doors to provide emotional support, some financial assistance, disaster spiritual care, and offer coping and safety information to help people get through this challenging time and prepare for future disasters.
To date, the Red Cross has:
- Distributed more than 99,000 relief supplies
- Provided more than 8,800 disaster care services to provide health and mental health services, as well as comfort and spiritual care.
- Served more than 2,000 households as people plan their next steps.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can help people affected by the Puerto Rico Earthquakes by texting the word EARTHQUAKES to 90999 to make a $10 donation or indicating this disaster on the donation form on redcross.org, and printing and mailing to your local Red Cross chapter. The Red Cross honors donor intent, and all designated funds will be used to support the affected communities in Puerto Rico through emergency relief, recovery and preparedness efforts.
EARTHQUAKE SAFETY You can find valuable information on how to be safe before, during and after an earthquake here.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.