U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of External Affairs
January 9, 2020
FEMA Providing Support and Resources to Puerto Rico
- Following President Trump’s approval for an emergency declaration Tuesday, FEMA and Puerto Rico officials continue conducting joint damage assessments in the most impacted municipalities: Guanica, Guayanilla, Ponce and Yauco.
- Federal response resources are on the ground to support the government of Puerto Rico. Disaster response is a whole community effort and most effective when it is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.
- USGS forecasts a decreased chance of aftershocks. However, if you live in the affected areas, follow instructions from local officials and monitor local radio, TV stations or official social media accounts for updated emergency information.
Local Officials are Leading the Response
- Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Graced has declared a state of emergency and activated Puerto Rico’s National Guard to assist with response efforts.
- PREPA officials said crews are working to restore power and they are developing plans for managing long-term outages after two generation plants were damaged.
- There are 1,300 generators installed on the island, 800 of which are in use; 20 additional generators have been requested.
- Two hospitals previously evacuated are now partially reoccupied. Of the affected health care facilities, 48 of 50 are open and operational with 23 on municipal power and 25 on generator power.
- FEMA is working with PRASA on their request for 20 water tank trucks to supply drinking water to critical facilities.
- Follow instructions from your local officials. If you have a question about whether your home is safe to re-enter, consult your local government officials for guidance.
- Although FEMA is working closely with the impacted municipalities to address emergency needs, if you need assistance or resources, please contact local officials for information on how to access needed help.
- For a list of shelters and other important information from local officials, visit www.manejodeemergencias.pr.gov or call the Puerto Rico Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Bureau at 787-724-0124 to find your nearest shelter.
Federal Agencies in Support
- FEMA is working with local government representatives to determine the extent of impacts on individuals and public facilities, and has taken the following actions:
- Two Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) are in in Puerto Rico. The Regional IMAT deployed to the Ponce area and is embedded with the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency forward operations center.
- FEMA has established a Structural Assessment Task Force and a Power Restoration Task Force. An infrastructure assessment team is in route to Puerto Rico.
- All Urban Search and Rescue and Incident Support Base personnel have arrived and are actively engaged in operations.
- FEMA has also deployed its communications personnel through its Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) capabilities.
- FEMA has prepositioned life-sustaining commodities, including meals and water throughout Puerto Rico, 280 FEMA generators are available if needed.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed a Temporary Emergency Power Team to Puerto Rico.
- The Department of Energy deployed personnel to provide status assessments, reporting and determine power needs.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico to ensure health care and services are available to meet the needs of recipients of Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- A liaison from the Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has arrived in Puerto Rico.
- Staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Puerto Rico coordinating with local partners to assess conditions.
Potential for Response on Top of Ongoing Recovery
- When natural disasters such as Tuesday’s earthquake strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations and numerous private sector groups. They provide emergency assistance required to protect the public’s health and safety and to meet immediate human need.
- FEMA continues to support the government of Puerto Rico with their complex and ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and to ensure everyone is better prepared for disasters that could impact the island, at all levels.
- Those in the areas affected by the earthquake are encouraged to monitor local radio, TV stations or official social media accounts for updated emergency information.
- Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
- During an earthquake, Drop, Cover and Hold On. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place.
- If you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe. Cover your head and neck with your arms or a pillow until the shaking stops.
- People with mobility disabilities who cannot drop, should still cover and hold on. People who use wheelchairs should lock their wheels and not try to transfer during shaking.
- Help injured or trapped persons if it is safe for you to do so. Check on neighbors who may require assistance such as infants, children, older adults, people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Cellular and land line phone systems may not be functioning properly. The use of text messages to contact family is the best option, when it is available.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise immediately move away from the area. If you know how to turn the gas off, do so and report the leak to your local fire department and gas company.
- Additional earthquake safety and preparedness information is available at Ready.gov and Listo.gov.
If you have any questions, please contact FEMA Office of External Affairs, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.
FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters.
Follow FEMA online, on Twitter @FEMA or @FEMAEspanol, on FEMA’s Facebook page or Espanol page and at FEMA’s YouTube account. Also, follow Acting Administrator Pete Gaynor’s activities @FEMA_Pete.