Puerto Rican evacuees settling down in Florida

- For now, a hotel room is home for José Hernandez, his mother, and two sisters. It’s also an important stop on their road to a new life.

Hernandez said hello via video chat to a cousin he left behind in Puerto Rico. His cell phone is his only link to the island.

“I have my grandmother back there, my aunts, cousins... it's hard,” Hernandez admitted

But this holiday season he says they're all counting their blessings, living in Central Florida – even taking time to decorate a Christmas tree in their hotel room.

“We have a place to stay, we have food, we're in good health,” he said.

Hernandez surprised his family at Orlando International Airport when they landed. Catholic Charities got them connected with lodging and food, when they arrived with almost nothing.

“We just try to work with those cases that are really special,” Julio Rivera, from Catholic Charities of Central Florida, said, “we find a way to help them.”

Hernandez says he has no regrets about leaving for a better life on the mainland after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, especially when it comes to his sisters.

“We found better schools, better education for them,” he said, “I know they'll be better prepared, compared with Puerto Rico.”

As for what's next, Hernandez is working with a friend to move into a house. He's working in a restaurant on International Drive now, but says he went to school for communications and hopes to work in local TV or radio.
 

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