Canadian Jesuits International is responding to two new emergency situations affecting the lives of many people in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Below you will find some details of the disasters that struck these countries as well as how to help people rebuild their lives.
Earthquakes hit Mexico
Two major earthquakes in Mexico in the past month have killed hundreds of people and caused widespread damage and suffering in several Mexican states. On 7 September, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chiapas and was felt as far away as Mexico City, where buildings swayed and people lost electricity. Approximately 1.5 million people were affected by this earthquake. Over 40,000 homes were damaged and close to 100 people died in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco.
The second major quake struck on 19 September and measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. It was centred in Morelo state, about 120 km from Mexico City. More than 300 people died and thousands were injured. Infrastructure was significantly impacted, with most of the damage in Mexico City and in the states of Morelos and Puebla. Many homes, especially in rural areas, were damaged; schools and health facilities were also affected.
Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico
Hurricane Maria was another major natural disaster to hit this region in September. It caused widespread destruction in a number of Caribbean countries and in the USA. Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico as a category 4 hurricane on the same day that the second earthquake hit Mexico—19 September. About 25 people are known to have died as a result of the hurricane but not all areas have been accounted for. All 3.4 million residents on the island were left without electricity, damage is estimated at over US$8 billion and 80% of the country’s agriculture was wiped out.
Fr Flavio Bravo SJ described the destruction on Puerto Rico as “apocalyptic.” The storm caused significant damage to Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, the Jesuit secondary school in San Juan. Fr Bravo said that the hurricane left a pile of emotions and thoughts almost as high as the debris: sadness, desperation from lack of communication, more suffering for the poor, and wanting to help but not knowing where to begin.
How you can help
CJI has Jesuit partners on the ground in Mexico and Puerto Rico who have requested assistance for the people they serve. We are collecting donations to help with their relief and reconstruction work. To support the disaster response in either or both of these countries, please