South Florida

‘It Just Hits Your Heart': Locals Pray for Family Amid Puerto Rico Quakes

At least one person was killed in Tuesday's strong quake

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Puerto Rican natives have been watching from South Florida with heavy hearts after a series of damaging earthquakes hit the U.S. territory in recent days.

Ariel Rivera, a native of Bayamon, said he spoke with his brother several times Tuesday morning following a 6.4-magnitude quake that knocked out power and left some homes and buildings destroyed.

PHOTOS: Strong Earthquakes Shake Puerto Rico

"In the middle of a conversation he's telling me 'oh, another earthquake, I'm feeling it right now,' he check his phone app and it was a 4.0," Rivera said. "They're nervous, everybody's nervous."

Over the past several weeks, hundreds of small earthquakes have occurred in the same region. At least one person was killed in Tuesday's strong quake.

"When you hear it about people that you know and people that you care, it just hits your heart," Rivera said.

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Puerto Rico before dawn on Tuesday, killing one man, injuring at least eight other people, knocking out power and collapsing buildings in the southern part of the island.

Others who arrived at South Florida airports Tuesday recounted how they rode out the quakes.

“You just kind of felt the whole room start to shake and we all realized 'whoa, the room is shaking," said Fabiola Polo, who was visiting family in Puerto Rico with her mother and sister. "It was really scary but at the same time we were calm, it’s a weird thing to describe."

Those arriving in South Florida said travelers had crowded the airports in Puerto Rico to try to catch earlier flights off the island. Alma Pabon said she was happy to be back in South Florida after enduring the earthquakes.

NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz is live from Ponce for continuing coverage of the earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico.

“Everything started shaking and I was awake because we were going to fly and everything was moving, the bed, the window everything was, even the animals, the dogs and chickens went crazy,” Pabon said.

“It was impressive and scary at the same time," said Alberto Esquilin. "We tried to get all the kids together, my father and mother, and get out of the house because you don’t know if the house is coming down.”

A 5.8 magnitude quake hit Puerto Rico before dawn Monday, unleashing small landslides, causing power outages and collapsing some homes. NBC 6's Stephanie Bertini reports.

Liz Alizea was visiting family with her husband and her 1-year-old son and said they got under a table when the shaking started.

"I have all my family there, so I’m a little worried for them, but my family lives in a safe area," Alizea said.

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