Earthquakes Rock Puerto Rico, AG Churches Damaged, People Fearful of Future
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According to the U.S. Geological Services (USGS), the 6.4-magnitude quake followed on the heels of a 5.8-magnitude quake on Monday. The epicenter of the third significant quake was located off the southwest coast of the island, near Indios.
Ivan De La Torre, the district superintendent of Puerto Rico, says so far he’s aware of four churches that have experienced damage, including two that have extensive damage and are no longer safe.
“We have one pastor that we know of who lost his home — pastor Felix Vega,” De La Torre says. “He pastors in Guanica and his church is one of those that has extensive damage as well.”
De La Torre says that the whole island is without power except the northeast metropolitan portion of the island. Many also do not have access to clean water. He and a presbyter are preparing to personally survey the damage, which is only now possible as many roads had been blocked by debris.
“Darisabel Martinez, the Puerto Rico Convoy of Hope coordinator, has been in touch with Convoy of Hope (headquarters) and they are working on helping us,” De La Torre says. “Help is going to be arriving this weekend. They are sending water, food, solar lamps, water filters, tarps, and hygiene kits.”
The USGS warns that aftershocks will continue, noting that when there are more earthquakes, the chance of a large earthquake is greater. “This earthquake could be part of a sequence. An earthquake sequence may have larger and potentially damaging earthquakes in the future,” the USGS site states.
“There is a lot of talk on the radio and on the news that there is going to be another earthquake that is even stronger,” De Le Torre confirms. “A lot of people — probably 90% — in the most affected areas are living outside of their homes, camping, because there is a lot of damage to homes and people are afraid.”
Along with the Convoy of Hope response, chaplains and 461 Response services are already on site, providing help and comforting victims.
“I sent a message to all my pastors and members of the churches, that one of the best ways to respond to the people in the affected areas is simply to be there for them, be a companion, listen to them,” De La Torre says. “There’s a lot of fear because the earthquakes started the 28th of December and have not stopped.
“The most important thing people can do for Puerto Rico is pray,” De La Torre adds. “Pray for peace and hope because the people are living in fear — we need prayer.”