By Chloe Bernstein
As all of Puerto Rico’s people tranquilly fell asleep on January 6th, they were naive to the fact that their island would be destroyed by the time the sun rose on the following morning. At exactly 4:24 A.M. on the following day, it was as if all of Puerto Rico’s people were instantly awoken by the same alarm; except this alarm was not from a clock. Rather, the alarm consisted of homes being shaken, walls collapsing, and windows shattering. This destructive alarm was a deadly earthquake with an epicenter just off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico.
The earthquake ranked at a 6.4 magnitude on the Richter Scale and took the life of a 73 – year old and severely injured 8 others. The catastrophic earthquake was the most severe natural disaster that has affected Puerto Rico in over a century, and it left the island in a completely devastated state. According to Samantha Gershuny, a 9th grader, “I can’t even begin to imagine how much effort it is going to take to rebuild Puerto Rico. Now that there is electricity, hopefully they can begin working on rebuilding some of the island.”
Natasha Velanzquez, a resident of Guayanilla, was one of the many victims of the earthquake. She has never been more grateful that her family wasn’t injured, but besides her family, everything else that she owned was demolished. As she slowly watched her home get abused by the natural disaster, she knew that it would be a long road to recovery for the island.
In 2017, Puerto Rico was struck by Hurricane Maria, which the island is still recovering from today; with all of the damage from the hurricane and earthquake, Governor Wanda Vazquez has declared a state of emergency. She has also requested aid from the United States due to the fact that thousands of homes were destroyed, leaving too many people without a proper shelter. According to Aliza Hammond, a 9th grader, “Puerto Rico’s desperate people need our help.”
Hector Cruz, another resident of Guayanilla, is beginning to lose hope. He watched as the island slowly recovered from Hurricane Maria, but even with everyone working together, Hector doesn’t believe that the island will ever fully recover from the adversity that the earthquake has caused.
When looking at the photos of the devastated island, it becomes apparent that billions of dollars are needed in order to refurbish Puerto Rico and bring the territory back to its feet. According to Ella Javorsky, a freshman that has been to Puerto Rico, “from the pictures that I’ve seen, Puerto Rico’s damage looks extreme, and it looks nothing like the island that I visited a couple of years ago.”
Imagine the home that you have made all of your childhood memories in getting destroyed. Imagine having no power and no fresh food for two straight weeks. These are only some of the hardships that Puerto Rico’s people are enduring as they face the aftermath of this major earthquake. Barbara Mikulsi, a former United States senator, says it best when she claims that “each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” Let us all take Barbara Mikulski’s words of advice and do everything in our power to bring normality back to Puerto Rico’s people.