Earthquake strikes too close to students hometown in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's magnitude 6.4 earthquake impacts students and their families

Earthquake+strikes+too+close+to+students+hometown+in+Puerto+Rico

Photo by Kevin Sosa

Jordan McKendrick

Still recovering from multiple hurricanes, beginning on Dec. 28, 2019, Puerto Rico was struck with earthquakes that left detrimental damage.

The island faced quakes during that week, with six that had a magnitude of five or higher. Another earthquake hit on Tuesday, Jan. 7. This was the most damaging, with a magnitude of 6.4. After this took place, more than 250,000 residents had no water and another half a million had no power.

Although not in the same area as our school, it still impacted students with friends or family that live there. With almost all of her mom and dad’s family living in Puerto Rico, senior Camila Baez’s family did not have it as rough as some of the people on the island.

“My family lives in Caguas so it’s not as close to the water,” Baez said. “They still didn’t have water and light but once the power plant came back on, they got it back.”

Although her family was not traumatically impacted, her friend who previously attended University experienced more intense conditions.

“My friend [Jeiny Rodriguez] lives next to the beach and she said that her house got a lot of broken cracks and all that but nothing too bad,” Baez said. “She used to live over here, she actually went [to school] here freshman year.”

Due to the aftermath, people left temporarily or permanently to escape the damage.

“I toured two new girls and they came from over there because the schools are shut down and some of them fell [so they transferred here],” Baez said. “[I toured them because] I’m an office aid for guidance and I’m the only one that knows Spanish and they know very little English.”

Baez believes that people in Puerto Rico will be determined to rebuild, but the cost to fix everything may become discouraging.

“I feel like a lot of people are motivated at the beginning but then when they see it’s too hard, they’re not going to work as hard because they see that it’s a lot of money [to fix],” Baez said. “I feel like they’re also going to be mentally not okay because that’s their home and that’s the life that they build.”

Being in Puerto Rico from Dec. 13 to Jan. 12 to visit his parents in Cidra, senior Kevin Sosa experienced the earthquakes firsthand.

“It was four in the morning and you could feel like something was about to come,” Sosa said. “We had all the dogs barking and it hit. Stuff was falling on the ground. My first reaction was to get to safety but there were a lot of things that fell so there was no way of me getting out of the room. I hid under the bed and stuff from the ceiling fell onto the bed, so I was stuck under it. My parents got to me, but it was too late to the point where I had a busted knee and by the time they lifted the bed another earthquake hit that was 6.0. After the earthquake happened, we all had to sleep outside because we didn’t know if another earthquake might hit.”

With his parents living in Puerto Rico, this was Sosa’s one time of the year to visit his family.

“I was over there visiting and my grandma passed away the day before the earthquake,” Sosa said. “It was just supposed to be a family holiday of me spending Winter break over there and [the earthquake] just happened out of nowhere.”

After being born and raised in Puerto Rico, at age 14 Sosa moved to Florida with his older sister to pursue his goal of playing collegiate baseball.

“It’s tough because I don’t get to see my parents a lot and my whole family lives in Puerto Rico,” Sosa said. “Me leaving my family behind [after the earthquakes] when I know their lives could be at risk any time is really hard because I want to be there for them when they need me the most. But I know they’re safe and they’ll get through this.”