People relocating from Puerto Rico finding more problems, little help

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – People are still struggling a month after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto.

A total of 250,000 people are expected to leave the island, with most headed here to Florida.

“I lost 28 years. I lost the house. I lost everything,” Maria Rexach said she had no choice but to leave everything behind in Puerto Rico. “My sons and my husband are still there. They have to wait because of FEMA, they’re supposed help.”

Maria and her grandson moved to Lakeland to stay with relatives.

“In Puerto Rico, we don’t have no medical assistance, no school, no nothing,” Maria said.

She hoped relocating would get them back on their feet, but instead, she said everywhere she turns to for help is turning her away.

Finding healthcare, housing, and even a close enough school for her grandson, who has autism, has been a challenge.

“I thought everybody knows what happened to us in Puerto Rico, and maybe they can help us, but it’s not like that,” she said.

Maria is not alone. The Polk County School District has already enrolled 159 students from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria.

Ana Rivera, President of the Puerto Rican/ Hispanic Chamber, told News Channel 8 that many are facing the same challenges.

“Issues that we’re finding, we need to address immediately, not tomorrow or next week, it’s more like yesterday. We’re looking at education, health, housing and employment,” Rivera said.

Rivera said she is organizing a roundtable for Nov. 10 at Southeastern University for community members and people who are relocating to come together and discuss the issues they are facing.

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