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Still recovering from hurricanes in prior years, Puerto Rico is now dealing with an earthquake and aftershocks.

“I’m reaching out. My understanding is the governor is doing a good job,” Deltona City Commissioner Maritza Avila-Vazquez said, referring to Puerto Rican Gov. Wanda Vázquez and her declaration of a state of emergency. “I’m watching the news. … My cousin lives in the south part.”

One person was killed in the Jan. 7 earthquake, whose epicenter is near Tallaboa on the island’s south coast. The quake was a magnitude 6.4.

The victim was killed when the walls of his home collapsed.

Aftershocks of lesser magnitude continue to rattle the island, which is now in the dark.

It was yet another blow for a land and a people still living with the effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and a lingering economic crisis.

Transplanted Puerto Ricans in Deltona are watching the situation on their home island via television and social media, to determine if a relief effort similar to that of Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 may be in order.

“I called my cousin yesterday. There is no power. They are fine,” Deltona Vice Mayor Victor Ramos said. “People are sleeping outside, because they don’t know what happened to their homes.”

Rafael Ramirez, the administrator of the new Halifax Health hospital in Deltona, said he has been in contact with his family still on the island.

“I have three sisters that live in the north. There are a lot of older buildings and churches that crushed to the ground. Thank God school is still out [in Puerto Rico because of the extended holiday break], or the death tolls would have been higher,” he added.

As they did for their compatriots in Puerto Rico after the 2017 hurricanes, Puerto Ricans living in Deltona and elsewhere in Florida collected tons of food, bottled water, paper goods, first-aid supplies and other essentials and sent them to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian devastated the islands.


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