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Puerto Rico Earthquakes (DR-4473)

Incident Period: December 28, 2019 and continuing.
Major Disaster Declaration declared on January 16, 2020

Individual Assistance Applications
Approved: 7,839

Total Individual & Households Program
Dollars Approved: $17,507,116.82

Designated Counties (Individual Assistance):

Adjuntas, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Corozal, Guanica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Maricao, Mayaguez, Morovis, Orocovis, Penuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San German, San Sebastian, Utuado, Villalba, Yauco

Click Here to view this page in Spanish.

Additional Resources

State and Local Referral List

National Referral List

 

News and Upcoming Events

  • Free legal aid available to eligible Puerto Rico residents affected by the earthquakes that began in December. Click here for more information.
     

  •  Mayagüez and Ponce: our mitigation community education and outreach specialists will be at two Kmart locations to answer questions, provide free information and tips on how to strengthen and secure homes damaged by earthquakes and hurricanes. Our representatives will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, February 10 through Saturday, February 15.

    • Locations: 
      • 2765 Ave. Hostos Ste.150, Mayagüez PR 00680 
      • 2643 Ponce Bypass, Ponce PR 00728
For more information click here.

 

  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available for individuals who lost their jobs because of the earthquaes in southwest Puerto Rico and live or work in any of the 25 municipalities FEMA approved for assistance may be aligible to receive unemployment benefits. Click here for more information.

 

  • As of February 6, 2020: Nine more municipalities that were affected by the earthquakes in southwest Puerto Rico have been designated as eligible for FEMA’s Individual Assistance program. At the request of the Government of Puerto Rico, FEMA extended eligibility for Individual Assistance to Arecibo, Ciales, Hormigueros, Juana Díaz, Las Marías, Mayagüez, Morovis, Orocovis and Sabana Grande under the January 16 presidential disaster declaration.

Financial Assistance

Individual Assistance - Dollars Approved

$17,507,116.82

Total Individual & Households Program (IHP) - Dollars Approved*

$16,265,896.56

Total Housing Assistance (HA) - Dollars Approved*

$1,241,220.26

Total Other Needs Assistance (ONA) - Dollars Approved*

7,839

Total Individual Assistance (IA) - Applications Approved*

Public Assistance - Dollars Approved

If and when public assistance obligated dollar information is available for this disaster, it will be displayed here. Information is updated every 24 hours.

* Dollars Approved: Assistance dollars approved but not necessarily disbursed.

Learn more about FEMA Disaster definitions. Information is updated every 24 hours.

Earthquake Recovery: By The Numbers

 

Here are the latest numbers on FEMA's ongoing earthquake response and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico as of February 13, 2020.

Numbers on FEMA's current assistance provided to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Earthquake Recovery By the Numbers Download Original

 

Apply for Disaster Assistance

Homeowners and renters whose homes were damaged in the designated municipalities of Adjuntas, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Corozal, Guanica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Maricao, Mayaguez, Morovis, Orocovis, Penuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San German, San Sebastian, Utuado, Villalba, and Yauco may apply for FEMA disaster grants that may help pay for:

 • Temporary housing, including rental assistance and lodging expenses, if the home is unlivable.
 • Replacing uninsured personal property.
 • Medical, dental, funeral transportation, child care, moving, storage and other serious earthquake-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and charitable aid programs.

How to apply immediately for FEMA disaster grants:
 • Online, at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
 • By phone at 1-800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Operators who speak Spanish are available by pressing 2. Telephone registration is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
 • Speak with a FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Team member near your home. DSA Teams are going door-to-door and are also visiting shelters and base camps.

 

If earthquake survivors have insurance and haven’t already done so, they should file a claim with their insurance company. FEMA cannot legally help with expenses covered by insurance or charitable aid programs.
In addition to insurance, federal and commonwealth assistance, there are several charitable aid programs that can help earthquake survivors get back on their feet.

Disaster Recovery Center Locations

Distaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) serve homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of the recent earthquakes in Southwest Puerto Rico. Specialists from the government of Puerto Rico and municipalities, FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, nongovernmental organizations and the local community, will be on hand to help survivors register for assistance, answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors. Services are provided in English and Spanish.

 

Guánica:
Coliseo Mariano “Tito” Rodriguez
PR-116R, Guánica, PR 00653
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m.


Guayanilla:
Estadio Municipal Luis A. “Pegui” Mercado Toro (parking lot)
PR-2, Guayanilla, PR 00656
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m.

 

Lajas:
Emergency Operations Center/Municipal Emergency Management Office Lajas Parking Lot
8 Calle Cementerio
Lajas, PR 00667
Regular hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

 

San Sebastián: 
Coliseum Luis Aymat Cardona
Room 2
PR-111 Km 18.0 Bo. Bahomamey
San Sebastián, PR 00685
Regular hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily


Peñuelas:
Centro Comunal Alturas 2
Santo Domingo, Peñuelas, PR 00624
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m.


Ponce:
Complejo Polideportivo Los Cabaos (Cancha de Baloncesto)
Avenida Los Caobos, Ponce PR 00716
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m.


Utuado:
Coliseo Municipal Jorge “Peco” Gonzalez
Avenida Rolando Cabanas, Utuado, PR 00641
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m


Yauco:
Coliseo Raul “Pipote” Oliveras
PR-128, Yauco, PR 00698
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m.

 

Villalba
Área recreativa Héctor “Papo” Díaz
PR-561; Villalba, Puerto Rico 00766
Open seven days a week, 7a.m. - 7 p.m.

 

Help from FEMA and SBA Now Available for Earthquake Survivors

CAGUAS, Puerto RicoHomeowners and renters in the 25 southwest Puerto Rico municipalities that were approved for disaster assistance for the recent earthquakes may apply for assistance from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

The Dec. 28, 2019, earthquake and continuing aftershocks have affected Adjuntas, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Corozal, Guánica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marías, Maricao, Mayagüez, Morovis, Orocovis, Peñuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San Germán, San Sebastián, Utuado, Villalba and Yauco.

 

Residents in those municipalities are encouraged to apply for FEMA disaster grants, which can help pay for:

  • Temporary housing, including rental assistance, if the home is unlivable.
  • Replacing uninsured personal property.
  • Medical, dental, funeral expenses, transportation, child care, moving, storage and other serious earthquake-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, Government of Puerto Rico and charitable aid programs.

FEMA grants can also supplement what is available from the Government of Puerto Rico and therefore a separate application for the grant is required. You must apply with FEMA to be considered for FEMA assistance.

 

There are several ways to apply for FEMA disaster assistance:

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov or DisasterAssistance.gov/es for Spanish.
  • By phone at 800-621-3362 (FEMA); or (TTY) 800-462-7585.  Multilingual operators are avialable. Press 2 for SPanish and press 3 for other languages. Telephone lines are open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.
  • Use the FEMA Mobile App or en español for Spanish.
  • In person with FEMA disaster survivor assistance teams that are going door-to-door near your home and are also visiting shelters.
  • At a disaster recovery center. Visit www.FEMA.gov/DRC to find the closest one. Or text “DRC” and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA).

American Sign Language interpreters are available, either in person or via a Video Remote Interpreter app. Just ask the FEMA representatives you meet.

If earthquake survivors have insurance and haven’t already done so, they should file a claim with their insurance company. FEMA cannot legally help with expenses covered by insurance or charitable aid programs.
 
Homeowners and renters also may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA to cover home losses not fully compensated by insurance. SBA loans are available to homeowners for up to $200,000 for a primary residence. Homeowners and renters may qualify for up to $40,000 for personal property. Businesses can apply for up to $2 million in loans for business property losses not fully insured. 
 
Next to insurance, an SBA low-interest disaster loan is the primary source of funds for property repairs and for replacing contents destroyed in the recent earthquakes.
 
How to apply for an SBA loan:

SBA opened two business recovery centers – in Ponce and Yauco – to help businesses affected by the earthquakes. SBA representatives provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the application. Small businesses and private nonprofit organizations may be eligible for physical and economic injury disaster loans. 
 
The SBA business recovery center locations: (Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.)
 
El Centro de Desarrollo de Pequeñas Empresas y Tecnología (SBTDC)
Inter-American University Campus
104 Turpeaux Industrial Park, Mercedita
Ponce, PR 00715

 

La Avenida Santiago Vivaldi y Calle Betances

La Placita, Mercado Abierto

Yauco, PR 00698

 

For more information on Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery, visit the Government of Puerto Rico, www.fema.gov/disaster/4473, www.twitter.com/femaregion2 and Facebook: www.facebook.com/femapuertorico.

 

 

Crisis Counseling Approved for Six Municipalities in Southwest Puerto Rico

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico – Few things are as unsettling as having the earth move beneath your feet without warning. If you just can’t overcome feelings of unhappiness or unease, you are not alone. Help is at hand, and it’s free.

 

FEMA has approved crisis counseling assistance for residents of Guánica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce, Utuado and Yauco.

 

FEMA is funding the crisis counseling program, which is administered by Proyecto Animate. The program’s goal is to help people and communities to recover from the effects of natural or man-made disasters through short-term intervention.

 

People commonly experience a wide range of emotions following a disaster. These feelings are normal and may last for many months after an event such as an earthquake. Common reactions may include:

  • Feeling tense or nervous, angry or irritable.
  • Crying often, feelings of persistent hopelessness.
  • Feeling numb.
  • Suffering sleep problems, being constantly tired.
  • Not feeling hungry or having stomach problems (such as nausea or cramps).
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions.

Everyone has these feelings once in a while. However, when these types of feelings and experiences disrupt daily living activities there is help available.

 

Counselors will be located in disaster recovery centers as well as in the base camps. Their goal is to help survivors understand their reactions, handle stress and review their post-disaster options. They will try to connect survivors with other individuals and agencies that can help their recovery progress.

 

Crisis counselors do not diagnose people nor do they keep records. They may conduct group sessions as well as individual sessions.

 

In addition to the counselors at the disaster recovery centers and base camps, counselors can be reached by calling Línea PAS at 800-981-0023 or (TTY) 800-672-7622, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

For more information on Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery, visit the Government of Puerto Rico, www.fema.gov/disaster/4473, www.twitter.com/femaregion2 and Facebook: www.facebook.com/femapuertorico.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Individuals who lost their jobs because of the earthquakes in southwest Puerto Rico and live or work in any of the 25 municipalities FEMA approved for assistance may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

The earthquakes that began Dec. 28, 2019, affected the municipalities of Adjuntas, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Corozal, Guánica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marías, Maricao, Mayagüez, Morovis, Orocovis, Peñuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San Germán, San Sebastián, Utuado, Villalba and Yauco.

The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program is funded by FEMA, overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, and managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (PRDOL).  DUA is intended for employees or self-employed individuals who lost their jobs as a direct result of a major disaster.

 

To be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, individuals must:

  • File a regular unemployment insurance claim and be determined ineligible for benefits.
  • Be unemployed or partially unemployed as a direct result of the major disaster.
  • Be able and available for work, unless injured as a direct result of the disaster.
  • File an application for DUA within 30 days of the date of the announcement of the availability of DUA benefits.
  • Have not refused an offer of employment in a suitable position.

In addition, unemployed individuals, including self-employed, who were living or working in the affected areas at the time of the major disaster, and who are unemployed as a result of this major disaster may be eligible for these funds, if they:

  • Have applied for and exhausted all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for unemployment benefits; or
  • Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster; or
  • Are unable to reach their jobs or self-employed locations because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster; or
  • Were to commence employment or self-employment but were impeded to do so by the disaster; or
  •  Became the breadwinner or major support for their household because of the death of the head of household due to the disaster; or
  • Cannot work or perform services in self-employment because of injuries caused as direct results of the disaster.

To file a DUA claim, visit the Puerto Rico Department of Labor's Bureau of Employment Security (BES) unemployment local office nearest to your home or at the American Job Center (AJC) in your area.  Claims can be accepted in person from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.  DUA Claims can also be filed by telephone until 4 p.m. each work day by calling at: 787-945-7900 or 787-395-7328.  Interstate DUA claims (for individuals who relocated out of state) may also be filed by phone at: 787-945-7898.

 

To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted to PRDOL within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed.  Required documentation includes your Social Security number, a copy of your most recent federal income tax return, check stubs, and/or documentation to support that you were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred.  The aforementioned documentation can be submitted in person at your nearest BES local office or AJC.
 

The deadline to file for DUA benefits timely is March 3, 2020.
 

Survivors may also search for employment and training opportunities through the AJC or by visiting CareerOneStop.org/LocalHelp.  

 

Required DUA forms and additional information that becomes available will be posted on Puerto Rico Department of Labor’s website at https://www.trabajo.pr.gov/ .

 

Coping After an Earthquake: Only you Can Determine your Healing Time

If earthquakes and aftershocks are causing you stress and anxiety, know that you are not alone.   While it is natural to withdraw and to keep feelings to yourself, connecting with others and talking about your feelings could make you feel better.

Some simple tips to help lessen anxiety include staying connected with your family and your closest friends. Check on your neighbors, especially people who may need help like seniors, parents with young children and people with disabilities.  

 

Remember to keep a healthy balance between your work, home, family and personal needs. Try incorporating exercise and rest into your daily routine and know that what you feel is okay.

 

Earthquakes and aftershock are expected to continue, which can be unsettling. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, call the Primera Ayuda Sicosocial at 800-981-0023 and meet with a crisis counselor. 

 

Disasters have a way of bringing people together so don’t hesitate to reach out to a neighbor, join a support group or call an old friend. Be patient with yourself, remember healing takes time and you determine the amount of time you need to heal.

Be Aware of Fraud and Other Scams

Disasters often bring communities together but con artists, identity thieves and other criminals may target survivors. The most common types of post-disaster fraud include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations, fake offers of municipal or federal aid and charging for free services.
Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, through the internet, or in person. It is important to remain alert, ask questions and always ask for identification when someone claims to represent FEMA or another government agency. Con artists are creative and resourceful. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it should be questioned.

Here are some tips to safeguard against fraud:

  • Ask to see ID badges. All FEMA representatives carry an identification badge with a photograph. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity.
  • Keep your FEMA registration number safe. This number is your key to your application information. Do not share it with others. FEMA housing inspectors will ask for identification to verify your identity but will already have your registration number.
  • Safeguard personal information. FEMA representatives will ask for social security and bank account numbers when you register and may ask for it after registration. Be cautious when giving this information to others who ask for it. Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, or insurance company employees.
  • Federal workers never ask for a fee or accept money. FEMA staff never charge for disaster assistance, inspections, or help completing applications.
FEMA housing inspectors verify damage, they do not make repairs, recommend any contractor or determine if a home is safe to re-enter.

You can take these steps to protect against fraud:

• Before any work begins, get a written contract detailing all work to be performed, the costs, a projected completion date and how to negotiate changes and settle disputes.
• Use a licensed and bonded contractor.
• Take a picture of your contractor, their vehicle and license plate.
• Take a picture of the contractor’s business card and driver’s license.
• Don’t offer personal financial information over the phone. Know who you are dealing with and always ask for identification.
• Watch out for middlemen who promise you will receive disaster grants or money, especially if they ask for an upfront payment.
 
If you suspect anyone of fraudulent activities, call the free FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 available 24-hours a day. Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement agencies.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Report

PDA Report; FEMA-4473-DR

Last Updated: 2020-01-16 05:00