Mending Puerto Rico: Local Puerto Ricans rattled by constant quakes

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By: Ben Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 15, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) --- Puerto Rico continues to be rattled by earthquakes. The U.S. Geological Survey says hundreds have hit the island since the end of December, at least 140 of them, above the magnitude of 3.0. That has many people in the Big Bend severely shaken.

Dozens of Puerto Rico natives call the Tallahassee area home. Local attorney Gisela Rodriguez is one of them.

WCTV has documented the efforts Rodriguez and her husband David Medina have spearheaded to help the Puerto Rican town of Jayuya recover following Hurricane Maria.

Rodriguez says living through this natural disaster is, “the definition of torture. It's just very stressful and it's painful."

Rodriguez still has several family members who live on island, including her 92 year old father.

She gets emotional when looking at video of her dad sleeping on a bed near their front door so he can get outside fast enough when an earthquake strikes. Rodriguez says this is worse than Maria.

"Maria, there was a beginning and there was an end. This, you don't know. You don't know if it’s going to end at all,” Rodriguez exclaims.

WCTV spoke with another Puerto Rico native now living in Tallahassee, who shares the same sentiment.

Edgardo Grajales is the Director of Volunteer Firefighting Services for the Florida State Firefighters Association. He and five others from across the state are currently in Puerto Rico. Their goal is to help relieve some of the first responders who have been aiding folks on the island’s hardest-hit southwest side.

This, as Grajales worries about his loved ones on Puerto Rico’s northern end.

“Right now, when we get an alert that something happened, and you're calling them and don't get an answer right away, my heart just breaks, and drops, and is like, oh my, this is it?"

And, we learn that an earthquake can strike at any moment. In fact, right after WCTV finished interviewing Grajales, he got an alert on his phone that a 3.9 magnitude earthquake had hit 15 minutes earlier.

"It puts a toll on you," Grajales says.

However, both Grajales and Rodriguez are doing something about it.
Grajales is on the ground working with the non-profit organization Boondocks K9.

According to their website, their mission is to help provide emergency response in Florida, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas.

They offer these services free of charge. Rodriguez and Medina’s non-profit, ‘The Giselle Marie Foundation’ is also teaming with them, one of several doing so.

Rodriguez tells WCTV Boondocks K9 is spearheading relief efforts and there are several ways you can donate.

You can read more about Boondocks K9 on their website.

You can send donations to: HC 07 Box 12881, Arecibo, PR 00612.

Some of the items they need include adult diapers, first aid and trauma kits, reflective safety vests, cargo working pants sizes 32 to 48, working boots sizes 7 to 13w, knee and elbow pads, safety goggles and safety helmets/headlights.

You can also make a financial donation at any Bank of America to the JJLyon Guard Foundation: Acct ending 6173.

Also, if you have a loved one in Puerto Rico that needs assistance, you’re able to call to get help. That # is 1-877-354-0810 option #4.

Rodriguez says you can also call her with any questions at 850-270-5117

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