Puerto Rican families can get help from United Way while waiting for FEMA approval

By: Lauren Seabrook

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Puerto Rican families are slipping through the cracks of Orlando International Airport's receiving center for people evacuating the island due to the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

 

Channel 9 found two families who were living in cars while waiting for their Federal Emergency Management Agency application to process

 

Heart of Florida United Way CEO Jeff Hayward said that should have never happened.

 

Hayward said United Way will bridge the gap during the wait time for FEMA assistance and pay for families to stay in a hotel room until they’re approved, which could take several days.

 

 

But the families must ask United Way for help after registering with FEMA.

 

"We direct them to go fill it out, then come back to us,” Hayward said.

 

"I think sometimes people forget to ask or they get up from a table, then start looking around. I think they may just give up or they're just not sure what to do or who to ask, and I think, unfortunately, too many people are leaving," Hayward said.

 

He said it would be up to OIA to put somebody at the door to make sure people aren’t leaving before receiving help.

 

Hayward said that would be an improvement to the complicated system.

 

"When Pulse happened, at Camping World, there were navigators taking people around to make sure they got all those services,” said Hayward.

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