ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — It's been two weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, causing widespread damage. Many are still waiting on electricity, food and water.
One week ago Channel 9 anchor Nancy Alvarez traveled to the island with a group from Central Florida. The group told Alvarez Wednesday that the cleanup efforts will be months, if not years away.
“The devastation is not just something that's there. It's affected people here back home (Central Florida,)” said Marucci Guzman with Latino Leadership.
Guzman is the executive director of the local outreach group, Latino Leadership, a group working around the clock on a mission that's two-fold: helping hundreds of families in Central Florida coordinate aid for loved ones in Puerto Rico, and helping storm victims arriving here in Central Florida.
“Orange County Public Schools yesterday hired while we were at Orlando International Airport. They hired the first Puerto Rican teacher to come off the plane because there's always a lack of teachers here and there's a need, so we were able to fill those slots,” said Florida Rep. Renee Plasencia.
Plasencia helped lead the group to the island last week and described working with Puerto Rican officials.
“The convention center is three floors and I called it the three levels of bureaucracy, and everyone is in meetings and nothing is getting done,” Plasencia said.
He said it's the exact opposite in Florida where work is underway to prepare for the influx of families who've lost everything.
“Be patient, to be kind, to be welcoming. We'll make room for them. I know many of them want to go back, so we need to provide them with a temporary home,” Plasencia said.
Watch below: Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez discusses the struggles Puerto Ricans still face