RI woman: Earthquake ‘shook all of us’ in Puerto Rico

WPRI.com Reporters

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — One man was killed and at least eight other people were injured when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico overnight.

Shirley Moore, a resident of Providence and a member of the Puerto Rican Professional Association of Rhode Island, traveled to the island on Saturday for her grandmother’s funeral. While already having to deal with the emotions associated with the loss, Moore said she and her family were shocked out of sleep before dawn on Tuesday.

“We were woken up at 4:30 this morning,” she recalled. “At the moment, my sister lives in Añasco, and we had to leave because her house is in a tsunami zone.”

“We had to flee to higher ground and everything was shaking,” Moore continued. “It felt like everything was going to come down on us. We ran out in our nightgowns and it’s been aftershock after aftershock.”

Cars are crushed under a home that collapsed after an earthquake hit Guanica, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Moore said because of the earthquake, the funeral home handling her grandmother’s service had no electricity but fortunately, they had backup power.

“We have generators at my sister’s house, at the funeral home, but with our phones – we are trying to plug in and save our battery while we can,” she added. “We know once we return, we will not have power.”

Moore said everything inside her family’s home was moving.

“This is my first time in an earthquake,” she said. “The whole bed was just going back and forth. My sister has air conditioning mounted on the wall and it felt like it was going to fall out. It was just rattling.”

Another member of the Puerto Rican Professional Association of Rhode Island was very close to the quake’s epicenter and Moore said they haven’t been able to contact her.

“The road to where she was at came down. We can’t reach her,” she said.

There have been at least 24 aftershocks since the earthquake first hit.

“It’s been very unnerving because the whole island felt it, instead of just a region,” Moore said. “This one shook all of us, right out of our beds, out of sleep. People were out in the street.”

What happened?

The January 6 and 7, 2020, M 5.8 and M 6.4 earthquakes offshore of southwest Puerto Rico occurred as the result of oblique strike slip faulting at shallow depth. At the location of this event, the North America plate converges with the Caribbean plate at a rate of about 20 mm/yr towards the west-southwest. The location and style of faulting for the event is consistent with an intraplate tectonic setting within the upper crust of the Caribbean plate, rather than on the plate boundary between the two plates.

U.S. Geological Survey

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