Serve earthquake-ravaged Puerto Rico

YUACO, Puerto Rico — When the final rumblings of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Puerto Rico subsided last Tuesday morning, the island residents’ challenges were just beginning.

One week later, the ground still shakes as tremors and aftershocks—some as high as 5.9 on the Richter scale—have plagued the area each night since the original quake. The need for volunteers and generous givers to Send Relief’s earthquake response for Puerto Rico won’t dissipate for quite some time.

Jonathan Santiago, Send Relief’s missionary to Puerto Rico, has repeatedly described the mood of Puerto Ricans as being “on edge.” Many are even sleeping in their cars or outdoors in fear of further seismic activity.

“As long as the ground is shaking, people are not going home,” Santiago said recently in a Baptist Press story. “We expect the number of people we are serving to continue to grow.”

As of Monday morning, Santiago reported that earthquake response efforts in the area have helped provide 5,800 meals and 28,000 bottles of water.

Currently four local churches — Iglesia Bautista La Gracia in Yauco; Iglesia Bautista Rio Chiquito and Iglesia Bautista Misionera in Ponce and Iglesia Bautista Sin Paredes in Guyana — are being used as shelters and places where people can get hot meals.

And because the area has been repeatedly hit with fairly high impact aftershocks, Santiago says the response efforts are becoming more of a long-term project.

“As many as 6,000 people are sleeping in their cars or in tents,” Santiago said. “We don’t see that number dropping, especially if the ground keeps shaking every two to three hours.”

In the midst of the challenges, there have been bright spots. Pastor Felix Cabrera reported that two people made decisions to trust Christ as their Savior during Sunday worship services. Santiago and area pastors are hoping for more such bright spots.

“Please pray for our churches, the pastors and their families and the volunteers who are giving their all,” he said, “The volunteers are my heroes because they’re trying to serve the people 24-7 while still having to take care of the physical and emotional needs of their families.”

With the island already vulnerable from Hurricane Maria in 2017, the need for more volunteers and people willing to give to Send Relief’s earthquake response are great.

If you’re interested in volunteering or you want to make a donation to earthquake response efforts, visit, register to explore volunteer opportunities or give a financial gift on our Puerto Rico Recovery page.

Published January 14, 2020