Puerto Rico’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake shakes local family

The unexpected disaster has left 22-year-old Savannah González and her family trying to figure out what’s next. “Bad things keep happening on the island and it is not fair.” she said.

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A Puerto Rican flag hangs from the porch of a home that collapsed on top of parked cars after an earthquake hit Guanica, Puerto Rico on Monday, Jan. 6.

A Puerto Rican flag hangs from the porch of a home that collapsed on top of parked cars after an earthquake hit Guanica, Puerto Rico on Monday. The earthquake unleashed small landslides, knocked out power and severely cracked some homes.

Carlos Giusti/Associated Press

Savannah González woke up to her mother’s text message Monday morning, shaken by the news.

Their native Puerto Rico was just hit by an earthquake and this time, the southern coast of the island where their relatives lives was affected.

“It’s a lot to deal with. Especially when you’re living in the states, but you have family in Puerto Rico,” said González, who lives in the Chicago area. “I can’t stop feeling so far away.”

González’s relative overseas are fine but the 22-year-old said her family has been on edge since the island endured several earthquakes since Dec. 28. Monday morning’s 5.8-magnitude tremor wrecked houses and collapsed the island’s natural wonder Punta Ventana.

Hours later, a magnitude 5 quake hit the island again and more tremors are expected. No major injuries have been reported.

Monday’s earthquake comes at the time many Puerto Ricans have been enjoying Three Kings Day — an extended Christmas holiday tradition.

“Everyone was in high spirits because we are celebrating our cultural traditions today,” González said. “Everyone decorates the island with vibrant colors and the kids get all excited for their gifts but then they all have to wake up to their house shaking — that’s scary.”

The unexpected disaster has left González and her family trying to figure out what’s next.

“Bad things keep happening on the island and it is not fair.” she said.

Just two years ago the island was devastated by the Category-5 Hurricane Maria forcing many Puerto Ricans to leave their homes — many relocated to Chicago. The storm —strongest to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years — razed its electrical grid while trees toppled onto roads and bridges.

The hurricane left González’s family without power for months.

Cristina Pacione-Zayas, co-chair of the Puerto Rican Agenda, said the group is monitoring the state of the island closely but doesn’t have any plans for aid relief yet.

The Chicago-based group launched the “Rescue, Relief, Rebuild” fundraising campaign following Hurricane Maria.

Manny Ramos is a corps member inReport for America,a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.

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