'It's just been a desperate sitation': Puerto Ricans choose between rebuilding, starting anew in states

Friday, 20 October 2017, 12:04:29 PM. Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have left for the U.S. mainland to escape the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. With conditions back home still grim — about 85 per cent of residents still lack electricity and 40 per cent are without running water — many are scrambling to build new lives away from the island.
Lourdes Rodriguez fled Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria filled her home in the northern town of Vega Baja with mud, ruining mattresses and other belongings. She thought it would be a short stay with her daughter in Florida, but three weeks later, there's still no power or water back home. "We're going to be here indefinitely," the 59-year-old retiree said in an interview at the daughter's home in Tampa. "It's been crazy, totally unexpected, like nothing I've experienced before." In San Juan, Efrain Diaz Figueroa, 70, sat listening to a battery-powered radio amid the wreckage of his home, its walls collapsed into the yard, and clothes and mattresses soaking in the rain. A sister was coming to take him to family in Boston: "I'll live better there," Figueroa said. Tens of thousands of islanders left for the U.S. mainland to escape the immediate aftermath of the storm. With conditions back home still grim — about 85 per cent of residents still lack electricity and 40 per cent are without running water, and neither is expected to be fully restored for months — many find themselves scrambling to build new lives away from the island. Particularly in states with large Puerto Rican populations, such as New York, Illinois, Florida and Connecticut, people are bunking with relatives while trying to find longer-term housing, jobs and schools for their kids. "I am in limbo right now," said Betzaida Ferrer, a 74-year-old retiree who moved from Miami to Puerto Rico in July, and now finds...Read more
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