In Wake of Recent Hurricanes, Earthquake Hits Puerto Rico

A string of earthquakes has hit Puerto Rico, which is still reeling after recent hurricanes Irma and Maria.

On Tuesday, January, 7 a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit Puerto Rico. It was followed by aftershocks, one of which reached a magnitude of 5.9. Four days later, on Jan. 11, another 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit the same region.

The earthquakes have caused one confirmed death, along with the destruction of homes and businesses.

The Costa Sur plant, which provides 40% of Puerto Rico’s electricity, has been taken offline indefinitely. Puerto Rico’s public utility, PREPA, tweeted that 99% of the homes and businesses it serves have had power restored since the earthquake, but still urges customers to conserve energy.

According to CNBC, 2000 Puerto Ricans remain in shelters, unable to return to their homes, and satellite pictures from before and after the earthquakes show that in parts of Puerto Rico, the ground has been displaced by as much as 5.5 inches.

On Jan. 16, President Trump declared that “a major disaster exists” in southern Puerto Rico, and “ordered federal assistance to supplement commonwealth and local efforts.”

Individuals can now begin to apply for grants for housing and home repairs. $8.2 billion in aid have been released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, put a hold on hurricane aid because he was concerned about the money being misused by Puerto Rican officials. This hold has been lifted, however, as a result of “additional oversight financial measures” being taken, CNBC reported.

According to Robert Couch, the new Federal Financial Minister overseeing disaster relief in Puerto Rico, said “his (Ben Carson’s)  dedication to the recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and his determination to ensuring that the funds entrusted to HUD by Congress for the survivors are expended as quickly as possible while still safeguarding against waste, fraud and abuse.”

Puerto Rican and Democratic lawmakers have argued that Puerto Rico has been treated unfairly, specifically that Puerto Rico has had to wait months for disaster relief. The states of Florida and Texas has received more immediate relief following hurricanes in 2017.