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The Puerto Rico Earthquakes and How You Can Help

We’re barely into 2020, and already the new year is challenging us with troubling headlines. Out of control wildfires, threats of war, and in our Caribbean, the Puerto Rico earthquakes.

In the case of the latter, though, at least there’s something you can do to help.

A swarm of earthquakes

Since January 1, 2020, nearly 1,000 quakes of varying strengths have hit the island.

You read that right: 1,000 earthquakes in just 10 days.

And some of those 1,000 quakes have been intense.

On January 6th, a 5.8 magnitude quake was followed by a 4.9. On Tuesday, there was a 5.0, two 5.6’s, and a 6.4 magnitude quake. And today, there’s been a new 5.2 and now another powerful magnitude 5.9 shock.

Occurring just a handful of miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, this barrage of quakes has caused landslides, upset power plants of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, and plunged the island into intermittent darkness. They’ve also toppled homes and other buildings along the southern coast in the cities of Ponce, Yauco, Guayanilla, Lajas, and Guanica.

The most significant impact, though, is being felt by the Puerto Rican people themselves.

Map of Puerto Rico Earthquakes

How much can one people take?

When Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico in 2017, it more than just ravaged the land, it tore at the heart of life on the island.

Severely damaged or destroyed homes, clean water hard to come by, and no electricity… How do you live in those conditions? How do you earn a living? Feel safe?

A recent study of Puerto Rican students found that 46% said their homes were damaged. Another 32% experienced shortages of food and water, and 58% reported they had a friend or family member leave the island. Not surprisingly, over 7% of students show “clinically significant symptoms of PTSD.”

It’s estimated that nearly 3,000 people died because of Hurricane Maria.

Now, here we are three years later, and the people of Puerto Rico are now fighting to live through a swarm of powerful earthquakes. Powerful earthquakes that are severely damaging homes, impacting water supplies, and knocking out electricity—plunging the island into a state of emergency all over again.

How to help (hint: it’s cash)

By now, we’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: giving cash is best.

Cash is flexible. It allows the people on the ground to immediately purchase whatever is needed to provide culturally, nutritionally, and environmentally beneficial support.

Cash also allows relief groups to procure the supplies they need near wherever they are. And when aid workers spend money in impacted communities, it supports their economic recovery.

Some Puerto Rico earthquake relief organizations

There are a number of organizations out there, both large and grassroots, that are contributing to support the people of Puerto Rico during this terrifying string of earthquakes. A few of our friends shared their suggestions with us, and we’ve compiled our picks for you below.

Brigada Solidaria del Oeste

Formed after Hurricane Maria, Brigada Solidaria del Oeste is a self-managed grassroots community initiative. These people are of the community and on the ground. Plus they’re very transparent of their efforts sharing daily on Facebook. To contribute to the efforts of the brigade, you can do it via PayPal at brigadasolidariaoeste@gmail.com.

María Fund

Also created in the wake of Hurricane Maria, María Fund supports grassroots community organizing groups. These are the people already working hard in the impacted communities to address the immediate needs of those affected by the quakes. Learn about more María Fund and donate now.


If you are only comfortable giving to a large, well-regarded international relief organization, then consider Americares. Since their establishment in 1979, they’ve provided nearly $20 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States. All this and a 4-star rating at Charity Navigator. Check out their site to learn more about their response and donate now.

Last updated by Patrick Bennett on .

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