January 13, 2020
Contact: Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division
FEMA and other Federal Agencies Continue Supporting Earthquake Response in Puerto Rico
- FEMA and its federal partners continue to assist impacted municipalities by addressing emergent needs while Governor Vazquez’s Major Disaster Declaration request is under consideration. Additionally, FEMA teams are doing damage assessments and assisting with delivery of food and water into the impacted communities.
- The Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau is coordinating with National Guard and volunteer agencies to help assess the need for survivor base camps. FEMA is working closely with Puerto Rico officials to process any federal assistance needed to support survivor base camps.
- Shelters and feeding stations are available in the impacted area. Call the Puerto Rico Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Bureau at 787-724-0124 if you need assistance in finding these locations.
- FEMA is fully committed to providing accessible preparedness, response and recovery information to the whole community and takes its responsibility to meet the needs of the deaf community very seriously. Some examples of FEMA’s ongoing engagement with the deaf community in PR include:
- Deployment of a Certified Deaf Interpreter to the Joint Recovery Office to assist and continue building relationships with the deaf community.
- Contracted with local sign language interpreters who have completed over 500 assignments to share recovery information.
- USGS current forecast indicates there is a 55% probability of a Magnitude 5 earthquake in the next seven days. These strong aftershocks are expected and are natural after a strong earthquake.
- These aftershocks may cause anxiety or stress. If you are feeling anxious, you can call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. The Disaster Distress Helpline’s TTY number for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, 1-800-846-8517, or users can also use texting options or their preferred Relay service (including 7-1-1) to connect with the main DDH hotline. The Puerto Rico Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Crisis Hotline is also available at 800-981-0023.
Local Officials are Leading the Response
- Currently, 28 shelters are open, with more than 4,700 occupants. It is estimated that more than 1,700 people are in non-traditional sheltering due to concerns about aftershocks.
- The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has requested assistance from the states of California and New York by means of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The teams will provide technical assistance for building evaluations and inspection, as well as debris removal and management in the areas impacted by the earthquakes.
- The Puerto Rico National Guard is assisting with operations including limited infrastructure assessment security/reconnaissance operations, evacuation support, and route clearance operations. Additional teams are en route to assist. California teams will begin building inspections today.
- According to PREPA officials, there has been significant progress in power restoration with more than 99 percent of customers having power.
- If you have a question about whether your home is safe to re-enter, consult your local government officials.
- Hospitals and dialysis centers are stable, there has been no impact on patient care or access.
Federal Agencies Supporting Local Efforts
- On Jan. 7, President Trump approved an emergency declaration allowing direct federal assistance for emergency measures to protect lives, property and public health after the recent series of earthquakes. This assistance is for all 78 municipalities in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
- The whole community is involved with response efforts, including private sector partners and non-governmental organizations like The Salvation Army and American Red Cross.
- Non-governmental organizations have set up 19 fixed and five mobile feeding sites across Puerto Rico operated by Puerto Rico Rises; the Salvation Army; Send Relief; the American Red Cross; and World Central Kitchen and other non-governmental organizations.
- FEMA supplied 20 water-tank trucks that are available to supply drinking water to critical facilities where needed.
- FEMA has taken the following actions to support Puerto Rico and local governments:
- FEMA delivered food, water and other commodities to survivors in impacted communities.
- FEMA established Structural Assessment and Power Restoration Task Forces.
- Urban Search and Rescue and Incident Support Base personnel are actively engaged in operations.
- The USGS forecasts that number of aftershocks will decrease in frequency over the next 30 days, but that a large aftershock can cause a temporary increase in subsequent aftershocks.
- USGS deployed six temporary seismometers along the coast adjacent to where the earthquakes have occurred.
- A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Temporary Emergency Power Team is in Puerto Rico; equipment mobilization started Sunday. A USACE Prime Power team is conducting assessments for generator installs where required. On Saturday, through a mission assignment, USACE completed inspections of nine fire stations and FEMA facilities impacted by the earthquake.
- Representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy are in Puerto Rico consulting with private sector partners on ways to increase power generation after the loss of the Costa Sur power plant, which will be offline for a significant period of time.
- U.S. Department of 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 is in Puerto Rico to assist local officials.
- Staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Puerto Rico coordinating with local partners to assess conditions.
- If you are in the areas affected by the earthquake, please monitor local radio, TV stations or official social media accounts for updated emergency information.
- 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.
- Check on neighbors who may require assistance such as infants, children, older adults, people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
- 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.
If you have any questions, please contact the Office of External Affairs, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division at (202) 646-3444 or at FEMA-IGA.
FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters.
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