RISE Response: Puerto Rico Earthquakes, January 2020

RISE is a new NCSE program that engages the university scientific community to co-create a knowledge exchange platform focused on the scholarship, tools, and early response strategies that universities can deploy before, during, and after extreme weather disasters. 


A series of earthquakes impacted Puerto Rico in January 2020. The RISE Network and universities are actively involved in the response and recovery efforts. This page will be updated as additional information is available. If you have any questions, please contact RISE@ncseglobal.org.

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Updated 1/17/2020 

Information and Resources

  • Lori Peek, Director, Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado Boulder, is offering is offering two webinars:
  • Please consider filling out this form if you or your university are involved in relief and/or research efforts in Puerto Rico. This information will be used to provide a record of the work and interventions by universities in Puerto Rico after the earthquakes.

  • Current Relief Efforts Underway in Puerto Rico is a spreadsheet that describes the relief efforts and is open for common use. It includes needs identified on the ground and contact information for local organizations and community leaders.


Summary of the Efforts Underway

  • A variety of trainings on mental health services in disasters are underway by Amy Nitza, Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz, and Margaret Favretti, founder of DesignEd4Resilience. The trainings are targeted towards all kinds of health providers, teachers, community leadership, etc. The sessions are going to be held at the Catholic University with remote locations all over the island and at the Cayey Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Psychologist Association is also involved in these workshops. 
  • A brigade of structural engineers from CUNY/SUNY are going to inspect and tag buildings in various municipalities of the island led by Jorge Gonzalez Cruz. The mayor of Penuelas, one of the most affected municipalities, is signing an MOU with the City of New York to support this work. 
  • A brigade of law students from University at Buffalo are traveling to Puerto Rico with Kim Connolly to provide assistance in labor issues related to relocation, the inspections of school structures, and others.
  • Jacob Mans and Gabe Chang are in Puerto Rico with a group of graduate students from the University of Minnesota providing assistance to nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable communities.
  • A group involving faculty in public health and law from SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo, and Penn State University are designing an intervention to monitor the classification of deaths related to the earthquakes. This was a huge issue after Hurricane Maria and the number of deaths became the center of a political struggle. Academia helped settle this issue by providing a legitimate method of counting the deaths. The federal government spent a year maintaining the number of deaths at 14. The state government kept it at 64 and academic research calculated approximately 2,975.