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Puerto Ricans Speak About Daily Struggles On The Island After Earthquakes

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

As protesters in Puerto Rico call for Gov. Wanda Vázquez' resignation after last week’s discovery of a warehouse filled with emergency supplies dating back to 2017, Puerto Ricans inside and outside of the island say residents are struggling after recent earthquakes.

Veronica Rivera is a social worker volunteering in Puerto Rico’s most affected communities.

While Rivera was providing supplies, directing victims to shelters, and providing clinical assistance, she saw a mother with two infants sleeping in a small tent at a parking lot and an elderly man with a leg injury sleeping in his car.

According to Puerto Rico’s Housing Authority, nearly 5,000 residents are sleeping in shelters.

Rivera doesn't know how the Puerto Rican government will relocate the thousands of people who have been left homeless.

She has also noticed that more Puerto Ricans are buying plane tickets to come to the U.S.

“People are so scared if they have the need to have a medical assistance, clinical assistance, special needs, elderly, kids, they are trying to leave the island so they can stay without PTSD,” said Veronica Rivera.

Jose Carmona, the public information officer for the Port Authority of Puerto Rico, says the number of people leaving through the airports in the south has not been “out of the ordinary” because now it is the island’s peak tourism season.

Veronica Rivera said she is proud of the way Puerto Rican community has come together, with collaboration between all of the non-profits, government agencies, churches, and individuals who have come to help those in need.

"We are waiting for no one," said Rivera.

Fernando Rivera, director of the University of Central Florida’s Puerto Rico Research Hub, said he expects Puerto Rico will rise from the situation.

He says that through all of the turmoil Puerto Rico has experienced in the last few years, the Puerto Rican people have been “more than resilient."

“People tend to forget that Puerto Rico has a 500-plus (year) history and it has withstood every challenge that’s been thrown to them. I’m consciously optimistic that we are gonna get out of this,” Rivera said.

Those interested in donating can do so through the Hispanic Federation Unidos website.