The welcome center set up in October at Orlando International Airport to assist Puerto Ricans fleeing the island devastated by Hurricane Maria will be closing and the services will be moving to an off-airport site next week.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management said the pattern has shown that many people arriving in Orlando, seeking a new place to live after Hurricane Maria made their homes untenable, have been bypassing the center on their way in and then returning later seeking assistance for services ranging from housing to school enrollment. Consequently, the center will be relocated to make the return trips easier.
FDEM Spokesman Alberto Moscoso said the arrangements have not yet been finalized on the new location but should be shortly, and it will be announced shortly. He said the transition will come next week, likely to be complete by Dec. 29.
Florida has two Puerto Rico Multi-Agency Resource Centers, one in Orlando and one in Miami. The Miami center will not be closed yet, he said. The centers are staffed with officials from federal, state, and local agencies, and from non-governmental organizations offering a variety of assistance to the incoming evacuees, many of whom arrive with little or nothing, including paperwork.
Since October 3, more than 254,000 individuals have traveled commercially from Puerto Rico to Florida. More than 34,000 have visited the airport’s Multi-Agency Resource Centers.