ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - One year ago from this Thursday, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm near the city of Yabucoa.
In the weeks and months following the storm, thousands of people fled the island. Many settled down in Central Florida.
One family has just now been able to secure permanent housing here at an apartment complex after going in and out of hotels over the past year. But still, there are about 43 families in Central Florida that are struggling to find and pay for permanent housing.
Just last week, FEMA's housing aid for displaced Hurricane Maria expired, leaving many still in need of help.
Father Jose Rodriguez of the Episcopal Church of Jesus of Nazareth says that spoke about the families in need, saying that "some of these are working families that have nothing. They have been in and out of hotels. Many of them are elderly and simply cannot afford the high Orlando rents and we have many who are disabled, special needs children, and some mothers with newborns."
The Hispanic Federation stepped up the day after FEMA funds ran out to help provide those families with one more check to help them get by for one more month.
The Heart of Florida United Way is also expanding the Hurricane Maria housing assistance program. The program helps with the initial deposit needed to secure affordable housing units and will now also include money for basic furniture and household needs.
A number of vigils are planned for Thursday, marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.