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Notes From the Field: Updates on Puerto Rico Earthquakes

  • 3 min read

On January 7th, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Puerto Rico, and significant aftershocks have continued in the days and weeks following, leaving many Puerto Ricans unable or afraid to return to their homes. As of January 17th, according to the International Medical Corps, 7,500 people were registered in 41 shelters, with even more camped in informal shelters across the region. Many families who are afraid to return to their homes due to the uncertainty of the aftershocks are camping out in their backyards or living in open-air makeshift shelters in parks and stadiums.

We have been working with our nonprofit partners on the ground, and through our Nonprofit Subsidy Program and Give Light, Get Light Program, almost 4,000 LuminAID solar lanterns and phone chargers have been distributed in Puerto Rico to families displaced by the earthquakes. Displaced families are in need of camping equipment, water filters, solar lanterns, and medical counseling.

While Puerto Rico has been hit hard by hurricanes in the past few years, this earthquake presents some different challenges, and has also been a source of significant trauma for families who are all-too-familiar with surviving disasters. Giovanna Castro, from SBP, is on the ground in Puerto Rico, and explains: 

“Due to the continuous nature of the aftershocks and the fear people have experienced, thousands of people are afraid to be inside their homes for fear that they might collapse on them. In that way, the trauma of the earthquakes is not limited to those families whose homes have experienced major damage, but extends to everyone that lives in the region. People have set up camping sites in their own backyards and in community spaces, such as municipal stadiums. That means that hundreds of people are living without electricity outside. In this environment, the LuminAID lamps have not only provided an important path towards light and communication (phone charging), but they also provide an important step closer to normalcy. For many families, out of all the supplies we brought, what they were most excited about were the LuminAID lamps.”


SPB's Puerto Rico Earthquake Distribution


Another nonprofit partner, Happy Sonship, took lights to a makeshift camp in Yauco, and Carlos Rodriguez reported back:

Carlos from Happy Sonship

“We’re here in the town of Yauco in Puerto Rico. There’s a makeshift camp. We’ve been delivering all sorts of stuff, especially these emergency backpacks that include the LuminAID lamps. Thank you so much because for all the issues that we’re having with electricity and with water and with shelters, these are amazing for people to have light and to charge their phones.”




Yet another partner, Off-The-Grid Missions, seeks to help deaf and hard of hearing individuals after disasters. They are heading into the mountains to search for deaf individuals who have less access to supplies than those in the camps, because they are more isolated. You can read more about how LuminAID lights serve a unique purpose for deaf individuals after disasters here.


Off-The-Grid Missions demonstrates a LuminAID light


Other partners who are using LuminAID lights in their responses include Convoy of Hope, Direct Relief, International Medical Corps, NetHope, the Puerto Rico Science Trust, and The Waterbearers.

We have been working with nonprofits and community groups in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Irma in 2017, and it holds a special place in our heart. Learn more about some of our responses and the organizations we've worked with in Puerto Rico.


About LuminAID's Give Light, Get Light Program

1.6 billion people around the world lack proper access to electricity. Many of these people are forced to rely upon dangerous, toxic, and expensive kerosene lanterns as their primary source of light. Through our Give Light, Get Light program, we partner with NGOs and nonprofits all over the world to distribute LuminAID lights to individuals who will greatly benefit from a safe, rechargeable light source. Including lights distributed through Give Light, Get Light program, LuminAID has worked with charitable partners to put solar lights and phone chargers on-the-ground in projects in more than 100 countries. In addition to disaster relief aid, LuminAID lights have been used in schools, orphanages, and hospitals in off-grid areas.


About LuminAID's Nonprofit Subsidy Program

If you aim to bring light to an area without access to safe, reliable lighting, we would be honored to support your work. Apply to LuminAID's Nonprofit Subsidy Program if you intend to use our solar lanterns and phone chargers for charitable or humanitarian use. As a member of the program, you'll receive discounted rates, one-on-one account management, and additional resources. While we prioritize registered organizations for our subsidy program, we do offer subsidies to individuals and community groups.



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