ORLANDO, Fla. - First Hurricane Maria, now earthquakes. Puerto Rico can't get a break.
“People are sleeping outside and they don’t know where they’re gonna end up,” said Katherine Galarza, Puerto Rican.
On Thursday, several packed airplanes arriving in Orlando rescuing Puerto Ricans from the chaos.
“Sort of like in Maria, the draw of Puerto Ricans in Central Florida, it’s becoming again a temporary recovery zone,” said Fernando Rivera, Director, The University of Central Florida Puerto Rican Research Hub.
Fernando Rivera, predicts Central Florida will see another influx of Puerto Ricans.
“Half of the island is experiencing energy loss and now we have reports that might be a longer-term type of deal, so now people are saying, what’s going on out here, is this another Maria-like scenario,” said Rivera.
When help didn’t arrive fast enough.
“A series of events, that you hardly see, the last five years have been very tough for Puerto Rico,” said Rivera.
Rivera believes some are unable to rebuild a second time.
“Somebody might have lost their residence out there and whether they’re going to be able to build it back up, that’s going to be an issue for them, whether they’re going to be able to get back on their feet,” said Rivera.
Others may be too tired to rebuild.
“My estimation is that people who were thinking about leaving the island and if opportunities open up in other places, this might be the last straw,” said Rivera.
And Central Florida is an attractive place to relocate because most Puerto Ricans have relatives here already.
“If you go to Puerto Rico and ask somebody if they have family somewhere in Florida, Central Florida, the probability of a yes answer is very high,” said Rivera.
“A lot of my friends, even family members are planning to come up here to the states because they feel more secure here than back in Puerto Rico,” said Galarza.
“I have my own house, my own cars,” said Juan Carlos Diaz, Puerto Rican.
Juan Carlos Diaz is one of those, leaving everything behind. He’s lost hope in a future in Puerto Rico and is ready to start a new life in Central Florida.
“Ready work, right now, and my wife too, as a teacher, and ready for work,” said Diaz.
It’s too early to say how many Puerto Ricans will come and stay. Congressman Darren Soto releasing this statement:
“I am proud to represent and live in a community that is welcoming and stands up for the most vulnerable among us. Following the devastating earthquakes in Puerto Rico this week, our fellow Americans are expected to come to Central Florida and I will welcome them with open arms.
We are meeting with Speaker Pelosi today to discuss Puerto Rico disaster relief efforts and ramping up the pressure on the Trump Administration to release federal funds allocated by Congress that are unlawfully being withheld.
I have also been in constant communication with Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, and will continue to closely monitor the situation and offer my steadfast support to our brothers and sisters on the island.”