Puerto Ricans In The River Valley Heartbroken Over Devastation From Massive Earthquake

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Earlier this week, Fort Smith resident Brenda Donato woke up to some terrifying news.

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Puerto Rico killing one person. Her mind was overtaken with thoughts and worry for her friends and family on the island.

“My sister and my in-laws who live in the coast had to be evacuated because there was an alert for a tsunami," Donato said. "So, you’re glued to your phone or watching the news trying to find all this stuff."

The earthquake leveled hundreds of homes, businesses and even some school buildings.

“You count your blessings because school was out and several schools were destroyed and my sister’s a teacher so, it makes me think, it could have been so much worse," Donato said.

Donato and her daughter Gabriella Hernandez say the images of the devastation are hard to see.

“Seeing the pictures of people sleeping outside and then not being able to go back inside because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen or another earthquake hitting because it’s still going on even if it’s just little ones," Hernandez said.

Parts of the island that are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Maria two years ago are now dealing with another blow.

"For those of us that don’t live there this is a very hard time. So, reach out to a friend, say a prayer, try to find a way to help," Donato said.

Despite their heartbreak, the Fort Smith family believes the people of Puerto Rico are resilient and will preserve.

"We did it when Maria hit. Everybody came together. Everyone helped one another and that’s what’s happening right now," Hernandez said.

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