Southern Baptist Relief Efforts Continue in Puerto Rico Earthquake Zone

Send Relief volunteers with Puerto Rico Southern Baptist churches have been preparing and serving hot meals for earthquake survivors in three local churches. Photo by Christian Acevedo

YUACO, Puerto Rico (BP) — The ground is still shaking as southern Puerto Rico continues experiencing aftershocks from earthquakes earlier this week. Send Relief staff and volunteers with local Southern Baptist churches have ramped up their service to residents.

Thousands of people continue taking shelter either in sanctioned shelters or in non-traditional spaces such as vehicles and tents. Many locations in southern Puerto Rico, both medical facilities and grocery stores, are still relying on generator power to sustain their operations.

Three Southern Baptist churches — one in Yauco and two in Ponce — have been preparing and serving hot meals with food provided by Send Relief while a fourth in Ponce received a Send Relief shipment of uncooked meals that will primarily be for police officers and first responders who are assisting earthquake survivors.

“As long as the ground is shaking, people are not going home,” said Jonathan Santiago, the Send Relief director in Puerto Rico. “Just last night, there was another significant aftershock. So, we expect the number of people we are serving to continue to grow.”

Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), stored resources — such as food, water and water filters—on the island in the event of another disaster event like 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

Grace Baptist Church (Iglesia Bautista La Gracia) in Yuaco prepared and served 300 hot meals primarily for survivors who have sheltered in the church’s facility. Thursday night (Jan. 9), 59 people stayed at the church. Send Relief has provided a generator to return power to the church so that it can serve as a hub for its ministry operations on the southern coast.

“We expect that once people realize that the church is powered up, we will have even more survivors come,” Santiago said. “That will facilitate us being able to move more quickly as we assist the community.”

Along with the work in Yauco, Send Relief has also been supporting churches in Ponce, roughly 24 miles from Yauco.

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Source: Baptist Press