FEMA Will Airlift Puerto Ricans To The U.S. Mainland, Two Months After Hurricane Maria

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FEMA is working with Florida and New York to arrange some real relief for stranded Puerto Ricans. With hotels filled to capacity, electrical contractor drama, and continued problems with basic resources two months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory, the agency is now offering free flights and temporary housing arrangements in Florida.

The “air bridge” offer speaks to just how wrecked Puerto Rico was, and still is. FEMA’s usual strategies for housing displaced persons during reconstruction efforts aren’t really feasible in this case. The question remains, however, just how many Puerto Ricans will take the feds up on their offer. Thousands upon thousands of Puerto Ricans already evacuated, and those who remain are especially determined to remain at home and keep their families together.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told 60 Minutes about the heart-wrenching decision that Puerto Ricans are making as they decide to stay or go. “You can see it every day at the San Juan airport,” he said. “There are tearful goodbyes as families break up and head off to start a new life on the mainland. The JetBlue solution they call it. More than 100,000 have left since Maria struck Puerto Rico 46 days ago. Some will return, many won’t.”

But for those who can’t wait or couldn’t afford to evacuate before, the air bridge deal is a possibility for getting back on their feet. Though only 30 of 300 surveyed Puerto Ricans expressed interest as of Tuesday, those who take FEMA up on the offer won’t be alone in their new communities. As CBS News points out, Orlando schools alone have made room for 1,300 Puerto Rican students. Other cities around the country are ready to make room for more.

(Via CBS News)

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