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Puerto Rico Alpha Advisor Sends Update Post Earthquake
Josuan Hilerio Sánchez, PR Alpha ’07, recently emailed TBP Headquarters with news of Puerto Rico after a swarm of earthquakes shook the island and destroyed several buildings. The fore-shock quake in December of 4.7 and the largest on January 7 of 6.4, combined with hundreds of smaller tremors has left thousands of island inhabitants, many still recovering from Hurricane Maria, in tent shelters and without power.
“I recently reached out to Puerto Rico Alpha’s officers for last semester – out of the 9 officers in the group chat, 4 have replied that they are alive and well as of right now.” He indicated that he was hopeful the others were faring well “given the lack of power and/or cell service around the island, as well as a shift in priorities at the moment,” wrote Josuan. Students were not scheduled to return until mid-January and the beginning of the semester is further delayed because of the problems associated with the quakes.
As for Josuan and his family, they live far enough away that they escaped structural damage to their house, but close enough to have felt the 6.4 quake on January 7. While there was no major damage in his immediate area, water was not interrupted, power was restored after a day, but they do not have reliable internet or cell phone service which has been an issue since Hurricane Maria in 2017.
For those who like maps and stuff…
“I live at the (red) pin; it’s a mountainous region and we’re about 30 miles from where the earthquakes are happening. I can’t say I’m in the clear, but I’m currently in a better position than I was post-hurricane Maria. When not at home, I spend most of my time at the office (green x in the northwest corner, marked PWPR); for those of us who can’t work from home (myself included due to internet issues), we’re running limited hours at our facilities here in Aguadilla until further notice. Traffic lights for the most part have been energized, but I’m still trying to leave for home while there’s still daylight, because power outages are still a possibility,” Josuan reports in his email. He is a Repair Development Engineer with Pratt & Whitney Puerto Rico.
“The University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, is smack dab on the central west coast (darker green x in the map above, marked UPRM). It’s further in from the actual coast, and is in what is designated a “safe zone” for tsunamis (albeit literally across the highway from the evacuation zone). However, like the rest of the island, the campus is not immune to damage from any earthquake, and the start of the spring semester has been postponed to next week (January 14, if I am not mistaken). Because of the size of the island, many students in nearby regions commute, including those in the municipalities most affected by the quakes.”
In a report from NPR, the U.S. Geological Survey said since a magnitude 4.7 quake hit Puerto Rico on Dec. 28, there have been more than 500 temblors in the region registering 2.0 or higher. More than 30 of those quakes registered greater than 4.0 magnitude, including the 6.4 quake on Jan. 7 the USGS said.
According to the USGS latest forecast, there are three possible scenarios for the island’s “earthquake sequence” over the next month. It gives a 21% chance for a quake as large as last week’s 6.4 magnitude to occur. A more likely scenario, it said, is that “aftershocks will continue to decrease in frequency over the next 30 days” which USGS says has a 76% chance of happening. The least likely scenario, at 3%, is that recent quakes could trigger a significantly larger quake.
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