By Cailey Rizzo
January 09, 2020

About two-thirds of Puerto Rico is still without power, and a quarter is lacking running water, after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday, the BBC reported. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the island in more than 100 years.

At least one person died and more than 300 homes were destroyed when the earthquake and its 6.0-magnitude aftershock hit. On Tuesday, Governor Wanda Vazquez called a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist in recovery efforts.

The southern side of the island was most impacted by the earthquakes. Buildings in the towns of Yauco, Guanica and Guayanilla collapsed due to the tremors. Puerto Ricans, who were without access to information, slept outside, uncertain if another quake would hit and cause their homes to crumble, according to The New York Times.

The earthquake knocked down considerable infrastructure, including the island’s main generating plant, Costa Sur. The power authority said electricity likely won’t be restored to Puerto Rico’s three million inhabitants until the weekend. The plant is unlikely to be repaired until next year. Power has been restored to most hospitals.

Puerto Rico Earthquake
Credit: AFP via Getty Images

About 70 percent of the buildings in Puerto Rico were built before earthquake-resistant codes were enacted, and many are fearful that the structures will not be able to hold up if more quakes hit.

Remote parts of the island were still dealing with lingering infrastructure issues caused by Hurricane Maria more than two years ago. "With the hurricane, you knew when and at what time it would arrive," Tatiana Rodriguez, a resident of Guayanilla, told CNN. "This, you don't know at what time it's going to happen."

The earthquake on Tuesday was one of hundreds of tremors that have struck the island since December 28. On Monday, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake caused the popular rock formation of Punta Ventana to collapse.

Looking for ways to help? According to Puerto Rico nonprofit tourism organization Discover Puerto Rico, one way to support the island is to visit. Tourism is vital for fueling Puerto Rico’s economy, and now more than ever, local communities could use your vacation dollars.

While the southern region has been impacted by the recent quakes, other parts of the island are welcoming visitors: All major hotels in Old San Juan are open; flights are operating as usual into and out of San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin, Ponce, and Aguadilla airports; cruise ships are arriving in the port in Old San Juan; and attractions, like El Morro, El Yunque, and San Cristobal fort, await. Wih that in mind, Discover Puerto Rico is encouraging tourists with upcoming plans to visit to connect with their travel providers, hotels, and businesses.