According to CBS News, there have been over 2,000 earthquakes in Puerto Rico since Dec. 28, with the most powerful one being a 6.4 magnitude quake in the city of Penuelas that killed one and injured nine others. Various Southern students have felt the effects of the rumbles, and at least one faculty member was actually on the island during the strongest quake
Journalism and Communication assistant professor Pablo Fernandez and his family were on the island during the catastrophe and they felt the rumbles despite being 45 miles away from the main point of impact
“Every hour there was another shaking so you are like on ‘aware alert,’” Fernandez said, before explaining how his daughter reacted. “My daughter, we were having dinner a couple of days after, and if the table would shake, she was like, “‘What’s going on? What happened? Is there another earthquake?’”
Fernandez said they lost water for more than a day and were only able to regain power through a generator while those without generators continued without electricity for days.
Senior broadcast journalism major Gia Arroyo, who moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. at the age of three and visits family on the island annually, expressed empathy for those on the island.
“In 2017, they had such an awful year that I think now they don’t take things for granted, but they’re also prepared for the worst,” Arroyo said. “I get a lot of anxiety because I’m thinking about [Puerto Rico,] and I’m just thinking about my family.”
Arroyo noted that she believes Hurricane Maria and the lack of preparation in 2017 motivated residents to be more prepared for a similar situation this time around. For example, Arroyo said she was able to locate her grandfather and verify that he was okay through a photo posted on a Facebook group where Puerto Ricans who do not live on the island can stay updated during catastrophes.
On the other hand, Fernandez said that he does not believe it is possible to be ready for such an event, especially when the island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. However, he does believe the hurricane helped catalyze a sense of community.
“It’s a nation trying to recover themselves. … And now you are hit again. I don’t think you can be ready for this,” Fernandez said. “If there’s something that remains from Maria, it is the willingness to help each other and support each other.”
On Monday, eight warehouses in various cities were found full of rescue supplies that the government had failed to distribute.
“It goes to show how greed can overcome even the most altruistic motives,” said sophomore psychology major, Jon Pinero, in response to the hidden supplies.
Puerto Rico’s Governor, Wanda Vazquez, fired the island’s director of emergencies immediately following the incident
“You try to find different ways to help your family by sending stuff over,” Arroyo said. “But then also, people are in such desperate need, you don’t know if it’s gonna get there.”