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NY governor visits Puerto Rico, authorizes deployment of 115 National Guard to island as temblors continue

Updated 7:16 PM ET, Tue January 14, 2020

(CNN) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo authorized the deployment of 115 National Guard members to Puerto Rico and arrived on the island for a visit Tuesday as aftershocks continue to jolt the US territory.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said power has been restored to 99% of its customers. But nearly 5,000 people are still living in shelters, according to Secretary of State Elmer Roman, CNN affiliate WIPR reported.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard one week ago, after a 6.4 magnitude quake shook the island, killing at least one person, destroying homes and leaving most utility customers in the dark.

"Our point is going to be, anybody we can help," Cuomo told reporters before leaving New York on Tuesday. "In terms of health resources, mental health resources, structural engineers, power supply, emergency responses -- that's the purpose of this visit."

Cuomo, who will tour the hardest-hit municipalities in the southern part of the island, said he had authorized the deployment for the next 90 days. The governor last week deployed a team from the New York Power Authority to Puerto Rico.

The New York delegation, which includes local leaders and elected officials, is also providing 800 blankets, 800 pillows and 500 emergency preparedness packs with emergency first aid kits, radios, gloves and masks, according to Cuomo's office.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday the city will have a team of 28 people on the island, including 16 building inspectors and engineers, nine emergency managers and two mental health professionals.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last weekend sent 35 disaster specialists to Puerto Rico.

Since December 28, about 500 earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or higher have hit Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The quakes have renewed fear and anxiety among residents in the southern towns of the island.

Vázquez Garced has said the temblors caused an estimated $110 million in damage.

Thousands of families have fled their homes, fearing the structures may collapse during an aftershock. They are sleeping in tents and tarps set up in stadiums, in fields and next to highways.


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