January 14, 2020
Contact: Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division
FEMA and the Federal Family Continue Puerto Rico Earthquake Response Support
- FEMA and its federal partners continue to assist impacted municipalities by addressing emergent needs.
- FEMA teams are doing joint damage assessments with the Commonwealth, assisting with delivery of requested supplies, and coordinating assistance for impacted communities.
- Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau is coordinating with the Puerto Rico National Guard and volunteer agencies to help assess requirements to establish five survivor base camps to meet immediate sheltering requirements. FEMA is working closely with Puerto Rico officials with regards to any federal assistance needed to support these facilities.
- 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.
- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) currently forecasts there is a 53% probability of a Magnitude 5 earthquake in the next seven days. Continued 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 the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (for Spanish, press 2 or text Hablanos to 66746). The TTY number for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, 1-800-846-8517, The Puerto Rico Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Crisis Hotline is also available at 800-981-0023.
- Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has increased its resources in PR to improve capacity for hiring counselors.
- For people looking to donate to support survivors, financial contributions are the most efficient method of donating. Funds allow the most flexibility in obtaining the needed resources at the correct time and moves money into the local economy to help businesses recover.
- Donate through a trusted organization. At the national level, many voluntary, faith and community-based organizations are active during disasters and are a trusted way to donate to disaster survivors. In addition to the national members, each state and Commonwealth have voluntary organizations active in disasters at www.nvoad.org.
Local Officials are Leading the Response
- Currently, over 40 shelters are open with more than 8,000 occupants, including more than 4,000 people in non-traditional shelters due to their concerns about aftershocks.
- 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.
- According to PREPA officials, there has been significant progress in power restoration with more than 99 percent of customers having power, although rolling blackouts may continue.
- If you have a question about whether your home is safe to re-enter, consult your local government officials.
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.
- 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.
- Urban Search and Rescue and Incident Support Base personnel are actively engaged in operations.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.dhs.gov.
FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters.
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