How To Help Puerto Rico After A 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Struck The Island

RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

On Jan. 7, the worst earthquake in Puerto Rico since 2014 struck the island around 4:30 a.m. The 6.4 magnitude quake was followed three hours later by a 6.0 magnitude aftershock, CBS News reports. As residents prepare for other possible tremors, it is important to work with local organizations to help Puerto Rico after the earthquake.

According to CNN, over a third of the island's utility customers had no water service following the quake, and much of the island temporarily lost power. Much of the power outages and damage is concentrated around Puerto Rico's southern coast, which was the epicenter of the quake. Mayita Meléndez, the mayor of Ponce on the island's southern coast, said that eight people had been reported injured and one 77-year-old man had been killed in the intense tremors, CBS reported. The 6.4 magnitude quake followed smaller seismic events that had been felt on the island since the last week of December.

Many Puerto Ricans on the island and in diaspora recalled the feeling immediately after September 2017's Hurricane María in interviews and Twitter posts. With the recovery from Hurricane María still ongoing on the island, relief efforts take on even greater importance.

Here are five ways you can help Puerto Rico recover from the most recent earthquake.

1. Donate To The Hispanic Federation: Unidos

In the aftermath of Hurricane María, the Hispanic Federation launched its Unidos program, which partnered with local grassroots organizations, foundations, businesses, and individuals to ensure that emergency relief was able to have long-term positive impacts on Puerto Rico. Donations help fund both first responders and sustainable contributions to local community organizations.

2. Donate To Americares

The medical aid organization Americares played an important role in helping Puerto Ricans recover from the trauma of Hurricane María, according to ABC News. In 2018, the organization expanded its programming on the island through the Americares Puerto Rico Mental Health Services, and they are currently accepting emergency donations as they prepare to aid in earthquake relief efforts.

3. Donate To World Central Kitchen

The World Central Kitchen, dedicated to providing food-based first response services, is already preparing to assist in the aftermath of the most recent quakes. According to founder and chef José Andrés' writing on Twitter, generators and solar power are already being put to use to bring emergency food aid to people across Puerto Rico. The organization is accepting donations for emergency relief.

4. Give To Direct Relief

The humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief is currently providing assistance with the Australian bushfires, and it is also mobilizing to coordinate relief efforts with multiple local organizations in Puerto Rico after the earthquakes. Teams of doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals are being organized in cooperation with community-based and government organizations across the island. You can donate to these efforts here.

5. Speak Out

Even though people born on the island are U.S. citizens, the United States does not offer equal governmental representation for Puerto Ricans as it does to residents of the 50 states. Asking your local government officials to prioritize relief efforts in Puerto Rico is key. CNN reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), widely criticized for its response to Hurricane María, is beginning to coordinate relief efforts with Puerto Rican officials; having your representatives push for adequate relief will be essential. You can use your zip code to find your representatives here.

Feelings of helplessness are common after disasters like earthquakes, but getting involved in relief efforts can help. Checking in with friends and family members to see how they're doing and contributing to relief efforts in whatever way you can may help both your own mental health and the safety and well-being of others.