Gov. Scott meets with Central Florida leaders to discuss relief efforts for Puerto Rican evacuees

By: Lauren Seabrook

Updated:

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - For the first time in the 54 days since Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico, Florida Gov. Rick Scott gathered Central Florida mayors, nonprofits and Federal Emergency Management Administration officials into one room to discuss relief efforts face-to-face.

At least 70,000 of Puerto Ricans have fled the island and relocated to Central Florida and one of the big issues is finding them housing, officials said.

“When you have families that are living in hotels, but you know in a week they’re going to be on the streets, it gets frustrating,” said Latino Leadership executive director Marucci Guzman.

County and city mayors said they have available land for trailers in Orange and Osceola counties, but asked the state and FEMA to take a wholistic approach, so evacuees won’t be all in one place and overcrowd schools.

Photos: WFTV returns to Puerto Rico

FEMA officials said they have limited housing options for Puerto Rican evacuees because the storm damage didn’t happen on the mainland.

Scott said it would be up to local municipalities to choose from the options that are available, “because they have better information than anybody does at the state and federal level.”

Some local organizations have started telling Puerto Rican citizens not to come to Florida if they don’t have a plan to avoid homelessness.

Photos: Puerto Ricans rescued from flooding

When asked if Puerto Ricans should come to Florida, Scott said yes, but added a caveat.

“Well, I always want to promote our state,” he said. “I mean, I travel the world trying to tell people to come here either to live or come here for tourism. And I’m not going to stop doing that.

“But I do want to make sure people have the resources they need.”

Scott said that if FEMA’s housing options are not sufficient to serve all the Puerto Rican evacuees now living in Florida, he would go back to the administration or directly to President Donald Trump to ask for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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