By Alex Wigglesworth
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES _ California was sending a team of disaster specialists on Sunday to help Puerto Rico recover from a series of earthquakes that caused more than $100 million in damage along the island's southern coast, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services announced.
The deployment of 35 specialists came in response to a request for assistance from the Puerto Rican government to the California Governor's Office, Cal OES said in a news release.
"California stands with the people of Puerto Rico," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in the statement. "Our nation-sized state knows first-hand the devastating toll of natural disasters and we will provide aid and support as our brothers and sisters rebuild and recover."
The personnel include experts in incident and emergency management, engineering and safety assessment, planning, public information, debris management and crisis counseling, Cal OES said. Most of them were scheduled to depart from Sacramento on Sunday morning and were headed to San Juan. They are expected to deploy for 16 days.
"Here in California, we have some of the most talented and experienced emergency management staff in the world," Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said in a statement. "We are ready to provide their valuable skill sets to our partners in Puerto Rico."
A magnitude 5.9 quake struck Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, four days after a 6.4 magnitude quake in the same area and amid a swarm of more than 1,200 mostly small quakes over the last 15 days.
The earthquakes have severely damaged infrastructure and left more than 2,000 people in shelters, while nearly 1 million remain without power and hundreds of thousands are without water, Cal OES said in a statement.
Earlier in the week, the state sent four California Urban Search and Rescue firefighters from Sacramento and Orange County to assist with search and rescue operations in Puerto Rico.