At the beginning of the New Year, 2020, Puerto Rico faced over 500 earthquakes. The U.S Geological Survey says that even after two weeks of rigorous shakes, they are not over yet. Causing heavy losses from damage, the series of earthquakes have also killed one person while injuring a few others.
While the island was still recovering from the devastation caused in 2017 by the hurricane Maria, two of the largest quakes struck the place within 24 hours, with the immense magnitude of 5.8 and 6.7 each. The quakes on the South-western shore of Puerto Rico are the strongest to hit the place in over 100 years.
“People are just sleeping outdoors. They’re too nervous to go back into their homes,” says Stephen Flynn, the Founding Director of Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute. He is working along with other members of the faculty on a project towards the recovery of Puerto Rico. Oxfam and the Foundation for Puerto Rico are the humanitarian organisations that Flynn is working with for this cause.
The professor of Political Science, Stephen Flynn says. “We’re bringing in a combination of our expertise on what makes a resilient community, and also an awareness of both federal funding and potential private sector funding opportunities to invest in those. If we can develop something together, some of these best practices in Puerto Rico, then we can share them as well with other islands.
Electricity supply is one of the major problems that Puerto Rico is facing since the 2017 hurricane that killed 3000 people and knocked out electricity for months. The hurricane disturbed the aging power lines of the island which took the place almost over a year to replace and recover. The system was still fragile when the recent earthquakes again disrupted the power supply. Costa Sur power plant, which supplies more than a quarter of the island’s power have been severely damaged.
“Earthquakes are, of course, on their schedule, but the fact is, our lives are increasingly being disrupted by these events,” Flynn says. “The challenge here is: When you get knocked down, how do you build back better and smarter, so that you’re better prepared to take the next challenge comes along?”