SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California sent 35 disaster specialists to Puerto Rico following a series of earthquakes that have caused extensive damage and power outages on the Island.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the plan Saturday after a 5.9 earthquake shook the island still recovering from a week of quakes and tremblors.
The team of specialists departed from Sacramento International Airport for San Juan, Puerto Rico Sunday morning, according to tweets from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
“California stands with the people of Puerto Rico,” Governor Newsom said in the press release. “Our nation-sized state knows first-hand the devastating toll of natural disasters and we will provide aid and support as our brothers and sisters rebuild and recover.”
Disaster specialists from different fields
Those on the team include experts in incident and emergency management, engineering and safety assessment, planning, and public information as well as debris management and crisis counseling, a press release from the agency said.
The team will deploy for 16 days and will include members of the California Department of Social Services, CalRecycle, Caltrans and the Division of the State Architect within the Department of General Services, according to the release.
“The destruction by these earthquakes is clearly severe and widespread,” Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said in the release. “Here in California, we have some of the most talented and experienced emergency management staff in the world. We are ready to provide their valuable skill sets to our partners in Puerto Rico.”
Earlier in the week, four California Urban Search and Rescue team members from Sacramento City Fire and the Orange County Fire Authority were dispatched to Puerto Rico to assist with search and rescue operations.
The possibility of more quakes has increased
Following Saturday’s quake the United States Geological Service reported that the probability for an aftershock of 6.0 magnitude of higher in Puerto Rico had increased to 12%.
There is a 4% chance of one or more aftershocks larger than a 6.4 magnitude, according to an aftershock forecast released by the agency.
The 5.9 magnitude shock increased the risk and changed the seven day forecast previously put out by the agency.
USGS also announced that a 3.0 magnitude or greater aftershock was “highly likely” after Saturday’s quake.
The rate of aftershocks will decline over time but may be felt near the epicenters, the aftershock forecast said. Any additional large aftershocks would change the forecast again.
Estimates of $110 million in damages
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced signed a major disaster declaration on Saturday, asking the federal government for additional federal aid for the southern towns of Guanica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco.
The governor told reporters there is an estimated $110 million in damage caused by the quakes.
She declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard after a 6.4 magnitude quake struck Tuesday, killing at least one man, destroying homes and leaving most of the island without power.
By Sunday, power had been restored to 97.9% of the island, a tweet from The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Autoridad de Energia Electrica) said.