• Hurricane Maria: Nearly 3,000 new residents moved to Central Florida

    By: Nancy Alvarez

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV Eyewitness News, with the help of CNN, is getting a better idea of how many Puerto Ricans moved to Central Florida following Hurricane Maria in September.

    Using a series of government databases, CNN found the Orlando/Kissimmee/Sanford region has seen almost 3,000 new residents.

    The U.S. Postal Service reported more than 2,000 change of address forms filled out for Florida zip codes. 

    The Department of Education reported the state has seen 11,500 new students since the hurricane, and more than 5,000 FEMA claims made outside of the island were made in Florida.  

    >>> More stories of Puerto Rico evacuees <<<

    UCF sociology professor Fernando Rivera has studied the storm's impact on Central Florida. He said the FEMA numbers, for example, may not reflect new residents.

    “What it tells you accurately is when people applied for it and where they were when they applied, but it doesn’t tell you where they are right now,” Rivera said.

    Also, since Puerto Ricans are Americans, there's no application process to move, which means no formal count.

    But Rivera said the numbers are vital for funding for schools and local governments in Puerto Rico and Central Florida.

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