When it comes to natural disasters, Caribbean people in the United States, are always cautiously optimistic about their relatives being adversely impacted back home. For some families still living on the islands, the worry has always been about hurricanes, floods or landslides — with very little concern about earthquakes.

But that has changed in recent years, especially with the hundreds of big and small earthquakes occurring in Puerto Rico over the past month and the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010. Now many Caribbean Americans shudder with the thought of their loved ones being affected by earthquakes and tsunamis.

No one ever imagined that Puerto Rico would have to adjust to a new type of normal. Many residents are still in deep disbelief that their whole way of life has been disrupted.

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Why? Because first their homes were devastated by Hurricane Maria, which plunged them back to an era when they had no electricity or running water. They dodged a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian in August but still experienced some flooding.

Since Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, the U.S. territory has not fully recovered. So when a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the island on Jan. 4 and the aftershocks since then, minds are in a tailspin. Homes destroyed and rebuilt after the hurricanes were shaken from their foundations. Residents ran out of unsafe buildings into the streets. Life in a place that felt much like paradise is now feeling a little hellish.

On Jan. 28 in the mid-afternoon, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. The shaking was felt on the north side of the Cayman Islands, the western side of Jamaica and the Southern tip of Cuba. The quake was also felt in Miami, where buildings were quickly evacuated.

According to news reports, the children in some schools in Jamaica quickly got under their desks while others were evacuated from buildings that were somewhat compromised already.

Even our brothers and sisters in Mexico experienced light tremors from this. Online articles reported that the earthquake was the strongest to rattle the Caribbean since 1946.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center sent out an alert to the region that waves up to 3 feet were possible. However, by late afternoon, it posted that very small tsunami waves were generated and the threat of a large life-threatening tsunami had passed.

Many people in Caribbean believe that oil drilling in the Caribbean Sea is the cause of the sudden upswing in earthquakes. Others believe we are in end times and this is what the Bible means about great earthquakes in various places.

Several scientists explained that two tectonic plates meet in the region and seismic activity results when the Earth’s crust shifts. They said that these are man-made disasters, as only God knows what these companies are doing under the Caribbean Sea.

We recently read an article on change.org where it was pointed out that in prior years, major earthquakes occur on the Caribbean islands every century. It noted that the number of earthquakes since 2010 and those occurring in the last couple of years can only be explained by drilling and fracking that major oil companies are doing to find new sources in the Western Hemisphere.

Regardless of the true explanation, this is a warning to us that we have to be prepared for a disaster at any time.

Are you prepared? How much non-perishable food do you have in your home?

The American Red Cross suggests everyone should have non-perishable food, a change of clothes, toiletries, a three-day supply of medication and a trash bag to fend off the elements in a small backpack in case of an emergency, such as an evacuation. Important documents also should be stored in a safe place.

Our world is forever changing and in some cases not for the better.

When all else fails we can pray for our people – as the saying goes, “Be ye also ready.”

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