North Carolina engineers return after helping Puerto Ricans recover from earthquake

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A group of North Carolina engineers has returned from Puerto Rico after helping with recovery efforts. The group was aiding in a region that was devastated by multiple quakes for nearly a month.

Natalia Santiago and Tim Morrison, engineers with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, were part of a North Carolina Emergency Management group of 14 people that spent time in Guanica, the southern part of the island, helping residents.

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"There's a lot of people living outside their houses after the earthquakes," said Santiago, who is originally from Puerto Rico. "We were there to check the structures and analyze if people were safe to go back to their houses, if they were suitable to live in."

The team, requested by the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau, included structural engineers, architects and urban search rescue team members.

"Having experience with building design and construction, we can contribute to other areas that need some assistance with structural engineering or evaluations and assessments," Morrison said.

The magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocked Puerto Rico last month, devastating residents still recovering from Hurricane Maria.

"This is going to be a long-term recovery," Santiago said. "Some of these people haven't recovered from Hurricane Maria and this is just an additional struggle they're going through."
Santiago is part of Boricuas en NC, a North Carolina group that formed after Hurricane Maria and provides help to Puerto Ricans.

"Puerto Rico is a US territory and I think we should just help any state or any US territory, equally," Santiago said.
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