Earthquake, hurricane leave hundreds dead, injured, displaced

It has been a tragic week with a major earthquake in central Mexico and Hurricane Maria devastating the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. Rescue and recovery efforts after these two disasters were still underway at press time.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake heavily damaged Mexico City and left many dead and injured. Mexico’s office of the presidency told The Associated Press the death toll has risen to 273, including 137 in the capital.

The Richland Counseling Center, in a campuswide email, offers resources for those seeking information about family and friends in the region.

Mexican nationals needing more information can contact the Center for Information and Assistance for Mexicans, or CIAM, at 855-463- 6395. CIAM is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach the Consulate directly to offer assistance or get more information, call the community affairs office at 916-329- 3542.

Concerned family or friends of Americans in the quake zone can find out more information by contacting the U.S. Embassy in Mexico by calling 011-52- 55-5080- 2000. For calls originating in Mexico, you must dial 55-5080- 2000.

To provide assistance contact the Mexican Red Cross through its website, www.cruzrojamexicana.org.mx, which has activated its safety check feature for those in emergency zones to be able to “mark” themselves as safe.

Facebook has activated its safety check feature for those in emergency zones to “mark” themselves as safe. This feature was created for people in emergency situations as a way to notify loved ones.  Users near an emergency zone may receive a notification asking if they are safe.  The user can then reply. After a large emergency event, Facebook combs through its user base to find out who is in the affected area.

Google Person Finder helps people reconnect with friends and loved ones in the aftermath of natural and humanitarian disasters. People can ask about someone they are trying to find or provide information about someone.  Follow this link to access Google Person Finder for Mexico: google.org/personfinder/2017-puebla-mexico-earthquake.

Hurricane Maria is considered the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. AP said the storm knocked out the entire power grid across the U.S. territory, leaving 3.4 million people without electricity for weeks or perhaps months.

Maria’s death toll across the Caribbean, meanwhile, climbed to at least 19. In Puerto Rico, the government said at least two were killed but media on the island were reporting additional deaths. The actual toll appeared unlikely to be known for days.

Those seeking information about loved ones in Puerto Rico can contact hurricane hotline numbers at 202-778- 0710 or 787-777- 0940 for information about citizens in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Tourism Company has also set up a hurricane hotline for “hotels, guests and industry partners” at 877-976-2400.

Students may need to call back repeatedly and have patience because the numbers are busy and no power makes it more difficult for students to know if their loved ones are safe.