Statement from UAW International Executive Board and President Rory Gamble on Earthquakes in Puerto Rico
The UAW has more than 5,000 members living and working in Puerto Rico. While still reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, the Island has been shaken by two significant earthquakes and over 950 smaller quakes in the past two weeks. Our entire International Executive Board is concerned and is holding our members, their families and all Commonwealth residents in our thoughts and prayers.
Through the Region’s Director, Beverley Brakeman, we are learning about the earthquake’s impact upon our members. While the quakes have been largely concentrated in the southwestern part of the Island, nearly 75% of the Island is without power. Thousands are sleeping in the streets fearing the collapse of homes and buildings still weakened by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. UAW members living in and around Ponce and Guanica have expressed extreme anxiety and fear as the Island continues to be racked by aftershocks. Reports indicate that several members have already lost their homes.
The White House has approved federal emergency funding for Puerto Rico and ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide equipment and resources to respond to the earthquakes. It is our hope and our message to US leaders across the United States that they prioritize, expedite, target and ensure the delivery of all financial and other assistance to protect Puerto Rico residents.
To our members in Puerto Rico, we want you to know we are gathering information and assessing current relief efforts in order to send support as quickly as we can. We stand in solidarity with you.