“Puerto Rico Rocked by Earthquake”: Enough Dramatic Headlines

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Two nights ago, there was an earthquake in the southwest part of Puerto Rico that I felt on my side of the island in the northeast. The tremors lasted for a few seconds and it was over. I went back to sleep and didn’t think much of it. Over the last two days, I have read headlines in newspapers like After Homes Collapse in Earthquake, Puerto Ricans Ask: Are We Safe? and Puerto Rico earthquakes cause heavy damage across island and knock out power. Understandably concerned, people who I had not spoken to in years texted me to see if I was fine. Their kind inquiries, “Alex, you dead?” were so heartfelt.

To be clear, many people were affected by the earthquake. Buildings collapsed, schools were turned into rubble, most lost power, and at least one death was reported. That is being reported accurately. The problem with the articles is that it made it sound like the entire island was destroyed or is on the verge of collapse. That is misleading. Most of the island was inconvenienced by the power outage, but as of publishing this article, much of that power has been restored including at my house (see TPOL Has No Wi-Fi).

Puerto Rico is three times the size of Rhode Island. What happens in one part of the island may not affect the other part. Responsible journalists should make this apparent in their article, so worried friends and family aren’t left wondering if those that they know are okay. Instead, the articles all read the same. “Two years after Maria, Puerto Rico is dealt another devastating blow as an earthquake rocks the island!” This reporting makes Puerto Ricans look like victims who can’t catch a break. It also scares of tourists who think that Puerto Rico must not be safe. While it is true that Puerto Rico’s infrastructure needs a complete overhaul, the island has not had more natural disasters than other US cities.

As a full-time resident of Puerto Rico, I am tired of reading national news that imprecisely depicts the situation on the ground. I am sick of being asked if I have electricity. I am over talking about Hurricane Maria. Though I appreciate the well wishes, I am also over being asked if I was affected by a natural disaster, whether it be a hurricane or earthquake. If I don’t make it, you’ll know (see TPOL Opens M-F at 10:07AM EST).

Life is great here (see Happy New Year from TPOL: The Year & Hindsight Is 2020). I have an ocean view villa. My commuter car is a golf cart. And, as an added bonus, I don’t pay federal or state income tax. The island has its problems just like my home state of Michigan has its problems. Still, come hell, high water, or earthquake, there’s no place I would rather live.

A newspaper should publish that.

How’s the snow where you live?

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly, you will find that people love disasters. Its been 12 years since the 26/11 terrorist attacks at the Taj, Mumbai, and I still get people asking me questions about it when they hear I was working there at the time. After politely brushing off peoples questions. I now just ask them why they are so interested to hear about how people died.

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