Salvation Army relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico

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The Salvation Army and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA) are coordinating response efforts in Puerto Rico this week after a series of earthquakes damaged homes, buildings and roadways, caused power outages for nearly one million people, and left hundreds of thousands without water. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there have been more than 950 earthquakes and aftershocks recorded on Puerto Rico since Dec. 31, though many were too small to be felt. At least 500, however, have been of magnitude 2 or higher. 

The biggest quakea magnitude 6.4 that struck the southern coast early Tuesdaykilled at least one person and injured at least nine others.

Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) personnel began assessing impacted communities within hours of the earthquake. Mobile units are now providing support with hot meals and various commodities to help responders and disaster survivors, and four Salvation Army Recovery Centers have been opened to the public to provide emotional and spiritual care as well as cell phone charging for critical family communication.

“We are providing hot meals to emergency personnel right now and a number of goods including blankets, diapers and other supplies to all of those displaced from the quake,” said Major Eric Rodriguez, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “We are continuing to coordinate with our partners and government officials to provide services to those in the most impacted areas on the island.”

Immediately following Tuesday’s quake, more than 80 percent of the island was without power and nearly 30 percent without water, mainly in the southern and western regions. Power remains out for more than half of the population and lack of water service continues to affect those in some of the hardest hit areas.

Although the full scale of physical damage is still being assessed, the brunt of the impact has been identified from Ponce west, particularly in the communities of Guanica, Guayanilla and other coastal areas.

Support personnel from the U.S. mainland, including teams from the Southern and Eastern territories, arrived Jan. 9 to assist Puerto Rican disaster response personnel in assessing and coordinating the needs of impacted communities. 

To support relief efforts, visit helpsalvationarmy.org

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