Months After Puerto Rico Earthquakes, Thousands Are Still Living Outside
In the past week alone, the Puerto Rico Seismic Network registered 43 “significant” quakes, leaving many people fearful of going home. More than 8,000 houses have been damaged.
GUÁNICA, P.R. — Nearly two months after an earthquake sent the population of southwest Puerto Rico rushing into the streets, thousands of people are still slumbering each night under camping tents, on cots, in their cars and in enormous open tents that serve as government shelters.
Long after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake sent powerful shock waves across the island on Jan. 7, the ground continues to shake. Over the past week, 43 earthquakes classified as “significant” have struck, according to the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, part of a prolonged and terrifying series of seismic events not seen on the island since 1918. A house in the town of Guánica recently collapsed after a fresh 3.8 magnitude temblor.
And while most of the recent aftershocks have been relatively mild — only five over the past week exceeded 3.5 in magnitude — the cumulative damage and constant rattling have left many Puerto Ricans with their confidence deeply shaken.
Hundreds of families are unable to pay for repairs to their ravaged homes. Others are unwilling to trust government inspectors’ assurances that their houses are safe.