Puerto Ricans wait to see if Trump will sign major disaster declaration after powerful quakes

National News

(CBS News) – Millions of Puerto Ricans are waiting to see if President Donald Trump will sign a major disaster declaration to authorize much needed aid. Four thousand people are still in shelters and many others are sleeping outside after yet another powerful earthquake.

5.9 magnitude earthquake shook southwestern Puerto Rico on Saturday just before 9 a.m. It was the strongest since last week’s 6.4 quake. More than 2,000 tremors have occurred since December 28.
Saturday’s earthquake didn’t injure or kill anyone, but there were landslides and damage to homes and businesses.

“You never know what could happen. Anything can just go just like this,” said Praxides Rodriguez, snapping her fingers. “Love your family, appreciate them, you know, just thank God every day for what you have.”

Rodriguez and her husband have been living in a tent in Guanica, one of the hardest hit areas. Many people there have set up camps at the top of a mountain because that’s where they feel safest as aftershocks continue.

Rodriguez  said she’s okay, but hopes more help is coming for those less able to take care of themselves.

“We don’t know how much longer we’re going to be here,” she told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. “We have a lot of elderly that are really in bed, that can’t even move out of bed.”

Elizabeth Vanacore, with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, warned residents that they should still expect “some aftershocks.” The network has more than 20 sensors installed around the island to detect earthquake magnitude.

Mr. Trump has not yet signed the major disaster declaration. The island also hasn’t received more than $18 billion in federal funding that was designated after hurricanes that struck more than two years ago, according to the Washington Post.

But, FEMA’s top official in Puerto Rico, Alex Amparo, said they’re not waiting.

“We’ve got our teams out in the field,” he said. “The tremendous amount of mutual aid that’s happening from the island, I’m sure you saw on your way here.”

Traffic was backed up Sunday in the mountains of the hardest hit regions as Puerto Ricans came from near and far to bring supplies to their neighbors in need. Since Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Ricans say they’ve learned they can’t rely on the government in times of disaster.

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