Latest quake triggers more concern among Philadelphia's Puerto Rican community

Hadas Kuznits
January 11, 2020 - 4:08 pm
Antonia Flores, keeper of North Philadelphia's Clemente Playground, shares her concern for family living in Puerto Rico following the recent earthquakes.

Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The people of Puerto Rico are picking up the pieces following a 5.9 magnitude earthquake Saturday morning as well as the aftershocks that are being felt, and it's also a scary time for people who have family members on the island.

Antonia Flores, the keeper of North Philadelphia's Clemente Playground, said she's leaving the red, white and blue Christmas lights on in the park in honor of her beloved Puerto Rico. Flores said she's concerned about her country, especially after the most recent earthquake, and the family she still has there, two sisters, a nephew, and a cousin.

She said damage in her sister's town has been minimal, but they've had their power knocked out for stretches at a time. "But what I heard is that in other towns, it's really devastating," Flores added. "I hear one of the churches in Ponce is falling down, it's really sad."

Flores said this natural disaster is happening right in the middle of Puerto Rico's holiday season, adding an extra layer of melancholy. "We believe in the Three Kings," she explained. "We get presents only on the 6th of January, and then after the Three Kings in the Puerto Rican culture, we celebrate seven days more."

However, Flores doesn't feel very festive right now. "Kids, people, they are sleeping on the street because they don't feel safe sleeping inside their house," she said.

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Philadelphia has a large Puerto Rican population, especially in North Philadelphia, according to Flores, and she said the community is worried about those still living on the island, still recovering from the damage Hurricane Maria wrought in 2017.

"It's like a double shock. I see people crying because there are still people in Puerto Rico that they don't have no electricity. They don't have no water," she said. "They don't have no place to live, because President Trump, he don't want to help and Puerto Rico, they rebuild little by little but it's going to take time and now with this, it's going to take more time. And if we don't have help from the United States, I don't know what's going to happen."