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Puerto Ricans in South Florida fear for family members' safety following earthquake

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 19:23:44-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The aftershocks of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked Puerto Rico on Tuesday have many island residents staying outside of their homes.

Pedro Roman in West Palm Beach can understand why. The pictures of the destruction keep coming into his phone and all he can do is think about his sister and her children.

"I cannot sleep thinking about them in Puerto Rico," said Roman from La Cosinita Latina, a well known Puerto Rican restaurant in West Palm Beach.

Roman said it was around 5 a.m. Tuesday when he was getting ready to go fishing and he received a call from his sister in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

"She was hysterical and everything was shaking like crazy," said Roman.

Too scared to go inside her home, Becky Roman FaceTimed her brother with her children on her porch.

"Tonight we’ll spend the night outside because it’s too dangerous inside. Even though I have a pretty secure home, it was really scary to be inside the home,” said Becky Roman.

Roman sent pictures of her hometown showing buildings damaged, rubble on the ground, and a crack in the road near a school.

The powerful earthquakes are being felt in the southwestern coast of the island. The most damage seen in Ponce, Guayanilla, Yauco, and Guanica. Many of those areas area also feeling aftershocks.

As the ground shook, residents in Ponce also reported hearing the alarms signaling the the threat of a tsunami.

"People were driving to the mountains like crazy," said Becky Roman.

The owner of La Cosinita Latina, Max Lucena, is still waiting to hear from his family in Yauco. He said it’s devastating to think of all the island has been through recently.

"It’s crazy. It’s Maria first, then its Ricardo Rossello and the government, and now this. I would just hope that we can just rebuild and start clean," said Lucena.

The Red Cross chapter in Puerto Rico is accepting donations for disaster relief on its website. Teams are still assessing the damage on the ground to determine what will be needed.