Missionaries and Church Groups in Puerto Rico on How They Are Coping Amid Uncertainty in Aftermath of Destructive 6.4 Earthquake

The Immaculate Concepcion Catholic church lies in ruins after an overnight earthquake in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Puerto Rico before dawn on Tuesday, killing one man, injuring others and collapsing buildings in the southern part of the island. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Several church groups and missionaries working in Puerto Rico during Tuesday’s 6.4 magnitude earthquake that triggered an islandwide blackout and toppled several churches and other buildings are relaying their experiences and telling how they and others are coping with uncertainty in the aftermath.

“We were all awakened at 4:30 a.m. by our walls and windows shaking,” Sue D’Anna, a member of the First Congregational Church of Hartland, Vermont, told Valley News. “Our side of the island has not seen damage, but the other side has seen significant destruction.”

The United States Geological Survey said in a release Tuesday that the earthquake, which has left at least one person on the island dead, struck at about 4:24 a.m. local time offshore of southwest Puerto Rico just a day after a magnitude 5.8 quake erupted from the same area.

Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in the region, the USGS said. The seismic activity began with a magnitude 4.7 earthquake late on Dec. 28 and was followed by a magnitude 5.0 tremor just a few hours later. Since Dec. 28, the USGS said more than 400 magnitude 2+ earthquakes have occurred in the region. Some 10 of them registered stronger than magnitude 4, including Tuesday’s tremor.

About 25 volunteers from the First Congregational Church of Hartland arrived in Puerto Rico on Sunday to help with relief efforts from the devastation of Hurricane Maria which left thousands dead in September 2017.

All of them were reported safe and they had planned to continue working to renovate a church in San Juan but officials concerned about more earthquakes and whether the building remains structurally safe has paused all their efforts for now.

“At this point, we are unclear about how the remainder of our week and work plans will unfold,” D’Anna said.

Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Puerto Rico are also struggling to understand the series of earthquakes that have been plaguing the island and the uncertainty that hangs over the lives of many affected by the disaster.

“We have never as a country dealt with such earthquake in all my years,” Pastor Jose A. Rodríguez, president of the church in Puerto Rico, said in a field report from the SDA.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair