US 'I'm staying': Puerto Ricans settle in Florida after Hurricane Maria
Needs go unmet 6 months after Maria hit Puerto Rico
Generators are still humming. Candles are still flickering. Homes are still being repaired.Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria exactly six months ago, and the U.S. territory is still struggling to recover from the strongest storm to hit the island in nearly a century. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Generators are still humming. Candles are still flickering. Homes are still being repaired.Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria exactly six months ago, and the U.S.
Crew with seeds, corals restore environment in Puerto Rico
<p>As crews re-string electric lines and clear debris from Hurricane Maria, a small group of Puerto Rican and international conservationists is working on rebuilding natural wonders destroyed by the strongest storm to hit the island in nearly a century.</p>Environmental groups and volunteers are gathering native seeds to replant forests across the U.S. territory and grafting broken coral back onto shattered reefs to help repair damage in the largest-ever effort of its kind for Puerto Rico.
MIAMI — Two and half weeks after Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico, Ivan Nieves's grandfather had few options. He was not able to get chemotherapy for his prostate cancer, and his main doctor had left the island.
So Nieves, 29, made a quick decision, and on Oct. 8, he boarded a plane for Miami with his grandparents, his mother and his partner.
The same day the hurricane hit, Nieves was supposed to sign a contract to open a second location for his bistro, juice bar and organic bakery. Instead, six months later, he and his partner are completing renovations in a space in the historic MiMo district of Miami for, which will offer the same menu as his business in San Juan.
"I'm staying because I'm looking to grow," Nieves said. "In Puerto Rico, we went backward after the hurricane."
Exodus from Puerto Rico grows as island struggles to rebound from Hurricane Maria
Experts estimate hundreds of thousands of people will leave by the end of 2018 amid lingering effects.The founder of one of the oldest musical acts here, Rodríguez croons boleros and lyrical anthems that at times quicken the heart and at others create a daydreamy lull. Many of them are homages to his motherland, love songs to this Caribbean island. It was a place he never wanted to leave.
It is a refrain that has been repeated in recent months by tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have closed shops, quit jobs and raced to Florida, transforming cities across the state. It's the largest migration ever from the Caribbean island, already surpassing the one after World War II.
Over 135,000 Puerto Ricans have relocated to the U.S. mainland since the hurricane, according to a report released by theat Hunter College in New York. The majority have gone to Florida.
, the population program director at the University of Florida's , estimates that roughly 50,000 to 75,000 Puerto Ricans may have permanently settled in Florida since the storm.
To come up with the figure, Rayer looked at the number of people who arrived at airports in Miami and Orlando — a total that includes government workers, volunteers, journalists and people making multiple trips. He then compared that figure to the number of Puerto Ricans who used the disaster relief centers set up by the state and the number of children who have enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in public schools.
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Battling mold, wind damage and a lack of money, museum directors struggle to restore damaged buildings.SAN JUAN, P.R. — Marianne Ramírez Aponte, the executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Juan, had never been so worried.
It appears the influx will continue., the director of the at Florida International University and an expert in Puerto Rican migration, conducted a randomized telephone poll with 351 island residents in January. Every person he spoke to said they were thinking of moving to the mainland, and over 65 percent were planning to permanently relocate.
A growing migration, intensified by the hurricane
Puerto Ricans have a long history in Florida. By the late 1800s, they were settling in the Tampa Bay area and later in South Florida.
"Historically, Miami-Dade County had a much larger Puerto Rican population before Central Florida," Duany said.
It wasn't until the 1980s that Puerto Ricans started moving in significant numbers to Orlando and other parts of Central Florida. These included islanders as well as Puerto Ricans from New York and Chicago.
But it was Puerto Rico's economic crisis, which began in 2006, that spurred a massive wave. The Puerto Rican population in Florida has shot up to over 1 million, from 479,000 in 2000, according to the.
6 months after Hurricane Maria, life in Puerto Rico is better — but will 'never be normal again'
Power and water have returned for Michelle Rebollo but challenges still exist, including lack of tourists for her business and no washer or dryer.Yet life is still far from normal. She’s a month behind in her bills. Her income is unsteady. Worst of all, the jovial unity forged among her neighbors in the storm’s immediate aftermath has faded to sullen despair.
After Hurricane Maria left damages of over $94 billion, the pace of Puerto Rican arrivals increased dramatically. Many were already thinking of leaving, but the storm's aftermath precipitated the move.
Rafael Ortiz Perez, 57, a civil engineer from Salinas in the southern part of Puerto Rico, arrived in Miami on Oct. 28, after the hurricane's fierce winds blew the roof off his house.
"The move has been positive," Ortiz-Perez said. "Things in Puerto Rico have not been good. Maria helped me make the final decision to move."
Initially, he stayed with his mother, who had settled in Miami 35 years ago. Shortly after arriving, he was hired by a Puerto Rican-ownedand is now working on a project with NASA.
Luis DeRosa, president of the, said he is seeing more well-educated islanders moving to the area.
He has been helping countless Puerto Rican businesspeople establish their operations in South Florida.
"The Puerto Ricans coming to open businesses are here to stay," De Rosa said. "They've done their homework."
With so many arriving, the impact is being felt in schools, politics and housing.
Over 11,700 Puerto Rican children have registered in Florida's public schools. In Miami-Dade County, new students have enrolled in numerous schools across the county, so it has not caused a strain in any one school. The county has hired 65 Puerto Rican instructional employees who were displaced after the hurricane. Orange County, in Central Florida, has 89 new hires from the island.
Puerto Rico in 'fragile state' six months after Hurricane Maria
Six months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, about 100,000 Americans on the island are still without power, thousands of blue tarps cover damaged roofs on homes, and over 130,000 Puerto Ricans have moved away. Load Error “We’re at a fragile stability right now,” Michael Byrne, Puerto Rico’s federal coordinating officer for Federal Emergency Management Agency, told Fox News. “I’m sorry to have to say this but we’re still delivering food and water to some neighborhoods…we still have a lot of work to do as we move into the longer-term recovery.
Colleges and universities in Florida have offered in-state tuition to students from Puerto Rico;has 216 such students currently enrolled.
As U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are eligible to vote once they move here and register. They have the potential toin one of the country's most crucial swing states.
Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican and likely U.S. Senate candidate, declared a state of emergency in early October to help the state provide services and obtain federal money to help Puerto Ricans displaced by the hurricane. He also established disaster relief centers to provide newcomers with information about schools, medical care and jobs.
Across 41 states and Puerto Rico, over 3,500 families are staying in hotels under the Federal Emergency Management Agency'sprogram. More than 1,300 of them are in Florida.
Most of the stays end on March 20. Jackeline Soto Perez, 29, a nurse, is nervously counting the days until the deadline. She, her husband and two children, 3 and 7, have been able to stay in a Miami hotel through the program. They have found an apartment to rent, but it's not available until April 1, so they are figuring out where to stay in the meantime.
In her hometown, Añasco, in western Puerto Rico, the lack of electricity after the hurricane was becoming untenable. Perez's younger son has neutropenia, a condition that reduces the body's ability to fight bacterial infections. His daily medication needs refrigeration, a daunting task without electricity. It's what ultimately led them to flee the island.
On a recent afternoon, she touched his forehead, checking for fever, as he slept. Perez was worried because he had not been feeling well.
Perez's husband is a paramedic, and she is a home health aide, working an overnight shift three times a week in West Palm Beach, often facing a two-and-half-hour drive to work.
Despite the challenges, the family has no plans to return. "My parents are in Puerto Rico, so it's rough," she said. "But as long as I have a good job here, I wouldn't leave."
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Puerto Rico in 'fragile state' six months after Hurricane Maria .
Six months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, about 100,000 Americans on the island are still without power, thousands of blue tarps cover damaged roofs on homes, and over 130,000 Puerto Ricans have moved away. “We’re at a fragile stability right now,” Michael Byrne, Puerto Rico’s federal coordinating officer for Federal Emergency Management Agency, told Fox News. “I’m sorry to have to say this but we’re still delivering food and water to some neighborhoods…we still have a lot of work to do as we move into the longer-term recovery.”On Monday alone, FEMA delivered 94,000 liters of water and 50,000 meals.
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