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Puerto Rico Evacuees Find Ready Aid At Florida Ports, Airports

Damage from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Photo: Puerto Rico National Guard by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

Thousands of residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands escaping the devastation of Hurricane Maria are arriving in Florida to find disaster relief centers at the ready at transportation hubs across the state.

Several thousand evacuees were brought to Port Everglades Tuesday aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Many were reunited with family in Florida. Others were transported to the Broward Convention Center for a resource fair set up by the United Way and other agencies.

“There are also folks that are on the ship — they do not have family here and don’t have resources and are really coming here totally blind and not knowing what’s next,” said United Way of Broward CEO Kathleen Cannon. “So, that’s the folks that we’re really here for.”

Similar disaster relief centers are now open at airports in Orlando and Miami.

Governor Rick Scott said the centers have staff from various government agencies and nonprofit groups, and provide referrals for help such as FEMA individual assistance registration, crisis counseling, medical attention, employment information, and language guidance. There will also be assistance for unaccompanied minors.

The center at Orlando International airport is located in Terminal A, Level 1, and will open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., including weekends.

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