ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - Dozens of people gathered in front of the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee Wednesday afternoon to protest Governor Scott.
Scott was attending the GOP Sunshine Summit at the resort. Chanting “Rick Scott, where are you?” Hurricane Maria evacuees and their supporters called on the Governor to help the 599 families still looking for permanent housing in Florida. Jose Castro with "The Vamos 4 Puerto Rico Action" group says time is of the essence.
“Right now, this is a symbolic manifestation but in three days this can be a reality," says Castro, as he points to tents setup in the median in front of the resort. The deadline for Hurricane Maria evacuees to leave their hotel rooms paid for by FEMA is Saturday June 30.
“It’s not that they want to stay in the hotel, it’s that they cannot get out of the hotel." Castro says. For the nearly 600 families that remain in hotels paid by FEMA, they say that’s the biggest hurdle. “They want you to earn three times the amount of rent and houses here of 3 or 4 bedrooms is $1200, so we’d need $3600 and we just can’t make it. That’s been the biggest stumbling block." Says Maria evacuee Alfredo Quintero Cruz. He’s been in a hotel paid for by FEMA since December of 2017. Quintero and his family of 14 are in 5 hotel rooms at the Baymont Inn & Suites in Kissimmee. He says the adults who can work, do, but says the part time work doesn’t pay enough to set money aside. Quintero’s daughter says families have had to combine with others in order to get out. “There have been families that have been able to leave because one or two families come together and then they leave." But as far as what happens Saturday for her family, she says it’s in God’s hands. "I don’t know. What God tells us. The last thing I’m going to lose is my faith." A FEMA spokesperson tells Fox 35, “The TSA (Transitional Sheltering Assistance) program is a bridge to other longer-term housing solutions. FEMA supports disaster survivors in their recovery process with many different housing programs, and we provide survivors all assistance that they are eligible for under the Stafford Act.” As of Wednesday June 27th, a total of 7,030 families from Puerto Rico of Hurricane Maria have benefited from FEMA’s TSA program in more than 30 states and Puerto Rico.