Puerto Ricans fleeing Maria search a New York foothold

People wait in line to get a flight out of the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport as they try to return home or escape the conditions after Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 
People wait in line to get a flight out of the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport as they attempt to return dwelling or escape the circumstances after Hurricane Maria on September 26, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  – 

On a crisp fall day, Jenny Nieves placed on a borrowed winter coat and went to choose up her new advantages card from the City of New York – for “food stamps, Medicaid, [and] some cash too,” she mentioned. Nieves and her 14-year-old son have been in New York for simply over every week. They’re residing together with her niece in a one-bedroom condominium within the Bronx. She left her dwelling in Luquillo, about 45 minutes from San Juan, due to the shortage of energy and water, the empty retailer cabinets and lengthy strains for meals. Her son is home-schooled, and he couldn’t do any of his on-line coursework with out the web.

Nieves taught second grade in Puerto Rico, however she’s not licensed to show in New York. She took a spot in line on the metropolis’s Human Resources Administration and began chatting in Spanish with the individuals round of her. “I’m already meeting people here who are from Puerto Rico also, like me,” she mentioned.

In addition to those advantages, family and friends raised $1,200 for Nieves on-line. When requested if she’ll attempt to discover work within the metropolis or how lengthy she would possibly say in New York, Nieves shrugs. “I could be here another month, I could be here 3 months, 5 months,” she mentioned. “I’m just not sure yet.”

Even earlier than the storm, Nieves mentioned Puerto Rico’s poor financial system and colleges made her take into consideration transferring to New York, the place she grew up earlier than going to dwell together with her mother and father in Puerto Rico eight years in the past. This would possibly push her to make the leap.

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College estimates that just about half one million Puerto Ricans would possibly depart the island within the two years after Maria — 14 % of its inhabitants. “In other words, Puerto Rico will lose the same population in a span of a couple of years after Hurricane Maria as the island lost during a prior decade of economic stagnation,” based on a badysis temporary written by the Center’s Edwin Meléndez and Jennifer Hinojosa.

Areas of the nation that have already got mbadive Puerto Rican populations are getting ready for big inflows. Florida’s governor just lately mentioned his state has already obtained greater than 73,000 Puerto Ricans. New York has opened a Hurricane Service Center within the Bronx to provide evacuees from Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas a centralized place to faucet into metropolis and nonprofit companies. “We’re hearing mostly that people are looking for long-term employment,” mentioned Johanna Conroy, director of Human Services for New York City Emergency Management. “They want to make sure that their kids are enrolled in school. Some people came up here with nothing but what they were wearing, so we’re hearing need for winter clothes.”

Conroy mentioned the middle is working close to capability and processed about 300 households in its first week.

One factor New York isn’t capable of supply is way reasonably priced housing. Mayor Bill de Blasio mentioned Puerto Ricans are welcome right here, however cautioned them towards coming until they’ve household or buddies to stick with.

Outside the middle, Leslia Rodriquez loaded her aged mother and father right into a automobile after spending a pair hours registering them for Medicaid and different companies. Her dad was hospitalized with bronchitis simply two days after arriving in New York. “The doctor explained to me is that it wasn’t bacterial bronchitis, it was bronchitis caused by the fumes of the generator,” she mentioned.

She’s lived in New York for nearly 20 years and mentioned she’s glad to have the ability to take her mother and father in, however it’s been “drastic.”

“They need a lot of help right now,” she mentioned. “I want to be able to provide everything that they need. They having a lot of anxiety.” She’d prefer to rebadure her mother and father they’ll be again dwelling for Christmas, however at this level, she’s actually unsure.

Follow Tracey Samuelson at @tdsamuelson




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