• Puerto Rican evacuee worries she, gravely ill husband will end up on streets if FEMA assistance ends

    By: Lauren Seabrook


    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - When Maria and Jaime Gonzalez arrived in Orlando after surviving for a month in Puerto Rico with no power or running water, the first thing they did was rush to the emergency room.

    Jaime Gonzalez suffers from diabetes and doctors told him his kidneys had shut down and he needed dialysis immediately.

    He also needed surgery to drain fluid from his swollen body.

    The couple has been staying in an Altamonte Springs hotel room paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since early November.

    Even though FEMA has renewed its commitment to giving evacuees hotel assistance through the end of March, Maria Gonzalez said the stay for her and her husband will end in two days.

    A FEMA spokesman stationed in Puerto Rico said he couldn’t speak about the case specifically, but said if their assistance was ending, there was a reason.

    Every 30 days, evacuees must be able to show they’re looking for permanent housing in Florida, or are working to fix their home in Puerto Rico, the spokesman said.

    Maria Gonzalez said her husband is too sick to go back to the island right now and believes they will need at least two more months in a hotel for him to finish his treatment and get back on their feet.

    Gonzalez pleaded with FEMA for continued assistance, but for now, the couple’s future is up in the air.

    “In the meantime, where are we going to stay?” Maria Gonzalez asked. “In the street? That’s the question I pose for FEMA. Please help us.”

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