According to Puerto Rico’s government’s website status.pr, only 17% of Puerto Rico’s residents have electricity and only 64% have water. As Puerto Rico continues to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, organizations on the mainland are preparing for the unexpected relocation of family and friends to the states. As many as 200,000 of the 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico could resettle in states where they have family ties, including Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to Dr. Edwin Meléndez, Director of Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños and a member of UnidosUS’s Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.
UnidosUS Affiliates are leading work to help families make a smooth transition to the states. Latino Leadership in Orlando, Florida was among the first to bring our attention to these families’ needs, and is spearheading efforts to support those who arrive in Orlando, where they expect as many as 100,000 from the island. Through a partnership with the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Latino Leadership established the Puerto Rico Family Response Center at the Orlando airport, in order to help reunify families in Florida, and provide adequate services to help them transition and restart their lives. This partnership brings together a unique network of resources as well as the support and trust of the Latino community in Florida.