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Earthquake Strikes Puerto Rico, Direct Relief Mobilizes Response

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake is the latest temblor to rattle the island.

The collapsed wall of the ruins of an iconic landmark lighthouse is seen in Guanica, Puerto Rico on January 6, 2020, after it was destroyed by an earthquake. (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)
The collapsed wall of the ruins of an iconic landmark lighthouse is seen in Guanica, Puerto Rico on January 6, 2020, after it was destroyed by an earthquake. (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

As the damage from Tuesday’s earthquake in Puerto Rico comes into focus, Direct Relief is mobilizing assistance for the island.

The organization has offered support to healthcare providers across the island, in coordination with the Puerto Rican Department of Health, the Puerto Rican Hospital Association, the Puerto Rican Medical Reserve Corps, and the Puerto Rican Primary Care Association. Direct Relief is also coordinating relief efforts with the Mayors of Guanica and Guayanilla, which were the hardest hit areas.

With support from local organizations like VOCES, University of Puerto Rico, and Federally Qualified Health Centers, Direct Relief will be organizing teams of doctors, nurses, and mental health counselors to offer medical and mental health services to residents and those staying in the shelters of these hardest hit areas, and who are still suffering from the impacts of Hurricane Maria.

Direct Relief is also sending overnight to Puerto Rico an Emergency Health Kit with over 200 essential medical items, and has made available its cache of medical inventory to hospitals and health centers treating patients.

Materials include: respiratory medications, blood pressure medications, diabetes oral medication and insulins, wound care, antibiotics, IV fluids, and neurological and psychiatric medications. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, there was a lack of medicine available, especially for those with chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Direct Relief has also published a live earthquake incident map detailing the severity and location of the earthquakes that will be updated as damage reports come in.

Direct Relief has extensive experience responding to earthquakes and other emergencies worldwide, including in Puerto Rico.

Since Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017, Direct Relief has supported nonprofit healthcare providers and community-based organizations with more than $100 million in material and financial resources to strengthen their ability to withstand and recover from disasters.

Direct Relief has also equipped the entire 350-person Puerto Rican Medical Reserve Corps team with Emergency Medical Backpacks, and has purchased over 30 mobile medical units and off-road vehicles to get to patients who cannot access services.

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