U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) met with a group of approximately 100 displaced Puerto Rican residents in Washington D.C. today.
The group of displaced Americans spent the day on Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to do more to help provide affordable housing to the thousands of displaced families who, like them, still cannot return home to Puerto Rico eight months after Hurricane Maria hit. [Read more…] about Nelson meets with displaced Puerto Rican families
Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida has donated 25 Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) vehicles to the Puerto Rico Police Department to support law enforcement needs and Hurricane Maria recovery.
Governor Scott said, “Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year, I have visited the island six times to offer guidance, assistance and support. We’ve made it a priority in Florida to aid Puerto Rico in their recovery from this devastating storm. I’m glad that the Florida Highway Patrol, on behalf of Floridians, has stepped up and honored a request to provide additional surplus police cruisers to the island. These 25 vehicles will assist law enforcement efforts as they work to rebuild. We will continue to do all we can to support Puerto Rico’s recovery.”
This announcement is part of a continued commitment from the state of Florida to assist Puerto Rico as they recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria. The vehicles had been out of circulation and were ready for surplus before they were donated. Per the state’s replacement criteria, FHP law enforcement vehicles may be taken out of circulation when they reach 80,000 miles or are eight years old. In November, 50 FHP troopers were deployed to Puerto Rico for one month to assist the Puerto Rico Police Department with security operations and traffic control needs.
“The Florida Highway Patrol is proud to continue assisting the Puerto Rico Police Department following Hurricane Maria,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “These donated vehicles are another way Florida is supporting the people of Puerto Rico in their recovery.”
Actions taken by Governor Scott following Hurricane Maria:
- On September 28th, at the request of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Governor Scott traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico to help coordinate response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.
- On October 5th, the Governor entered into a host-state agreement with FEMA – Florida is the only state willing to enter into this type of agreement to help families displaced by Hurricane Maria.
- On October 11th, Governor Scott met with Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Congressman Mike Conaway, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Congressman Michael McCaul, and Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón.
- On October 30th, the Governor’s office sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget. See the letter HERE.
- On November 3rd, Governor Scott led a delegation of Florida utility providers to Puerto Rico at the invitation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló.
- On November 9th, the Governor activated the State Emergency Response Team to assist families displaced by Hurricane Maria. See the Governor’s press release HERE.
- On November 15th, the Governor sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan urging them to support Florida’s efforts to support those displaced from Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. See the Governor’s letter HERE.
- On December 21st, Governor Scott spoke with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón regarding Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria.
- On December 22nd, Governor Scott spoke with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen regarding recovery efforts for Florida and Puerto Rico.
- On January 3rd, Governor Scott sent a letter to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations urging the Senate to immediately pass a significant Hurricane Irma and Maria disaster relief package. See the Governor’s letter HERE.
- On January 11th, Governor Scott spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long regarding the FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program and the importance of continued communication between federal, state and local partners as families continue to recover from Hurricane Maria.
- On January 12th, Governor Scott met with Governor Ricardo Rosselló and joined him for a Puerto Rico recovery town hall meeting to discuss ongoing relief efforts.
- On January 24th, Governor Scott, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, California Governor Jerry Brown and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló issued a joint letter urging the U.S. Senate to improve and expeditiously pass supplemental disaster funding, and for Congress to send the bill to the President. See the letter HERE.
- On February 5th, Governor Scott visited Puerto Rico with Governor Ricardo Rosselló to assist with ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
- On February 7th, Governor Scott spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long regarding Governor Scott’s recent trip to Puerto Rico.
- On February 7th, Governor Scott announced a new partnership to connect families displaced by Hurricane Maria with jobs in Florida. See the announcement HERE.
- On March 5th, Governor Scott traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón and attend the Puerto Rico State of the State Address.
- On April 18th, Governor Scott met with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón in Washington D.C. to discuss how Florida is working to help Puerto Rican evacuees in the state.
- On April 18th, Governor Scott also spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long to discuss the FEMA Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program and the importance of keeping the FEMA case managers the Governor previously requested on the ground across the state.
- On May 18th, Governor Scott announced that Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart would travel to Puerto Rico on May 20th to meet with Puerto Rico Department of Education Secretary Dr. Julie Keleher and offer continued guidance and support. See the Governor’s announcement HERE.
- On May 31st, Governor Scott traveled to Puerto Rico at the invitation of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló to continue to offer guidance, advice and assistance regarding ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts. During his visit, Governor Scott met with Governor Rosselló, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera-Marin, and Speaker of the House Carlos Johnny Méndez.
Following a recently announced $1 million investment in Florida’s workforce system to help Puerto Rican families find jobs, today, Governor Rick Scott announced a new job placement partnership between education, business and workforce development organizations. CareerSource South Florida, the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of South Florida and the Ana G. Méndez University System will work together to connect families relocating from Puerto Rico with available job positions and provide needed job training. Today’s announcement took place on the South Florida campus of the Ana G. Méndez University System, which has provided scholarships for more than 50 Puerto Rican students to continue their studies in Florida.
Governor Scott said, “This week, I visited Puerto Rico and assured everyone there that Florida will continue to help those displaced by Hurricane Maria in any way that we can. A large part of any family’s success is the ability to find a good job. That is why I recently announced a $1 million investment into Florida’s workforce system to help connect those displaced by Hurricane Maria with job opportunities in Florida. Our state currently has more than 260,000 job opportunities because of our focus on the economy, and this new partnership will make sure that every family has the ability to support themselves and get back on their feet.”
DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said, “As Floridians, we understand the importance of returning to work after a natural disaster. DEO is proud to work with local CareerSource Florida workforce boards across the state to connect dislocated job seekers with job opportunities. We will continue to use these grants and all other resources we have available to help families impacted by Hurricane Maria return to work.”
President of Ana G. Mendez University Jose F. Mendéz Mendéz said, “The Ana G. Mendéz University System feels honored to be part of this collaborative alliance. I appreciate Governor Scott’s efforts and those of all who make it possible to fulfill his public policy of helping our people on the Island; particularly, for all the initiatives created for the thousands of families who have decided to turn Florida into their new home. Our learning centers in Florida, through our Dual Language Immersion Program, are the ideal place for the Hispanic community to acquire the necessary skills for the challenges that professionals face in today’s business world.”
CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard said, “The CareerSource Florida network shares the commitment of our business and education partners to help families impacted by Hurricane Maria rebuild their lives. We are grateful to Governor Scott for his leadership in providing all available resources to assist our neighbors, and we are excited to be part of this new initiative.”
CareerSource South Florida Executive Director Rick Beasley said, “My team looks forward to working closely with the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of South Florida to ensure the business community knows the wide range of skills job seekers who have relocated due to Hurricane Maria bring to our workforce. CareerSource South Florida also stands ready to assist Ana G. Mendez University students with finding job opportunities upon graduation.”
President of the South Florida Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Dynamic Community Development Corporation Luis De Rosa said, “Governor Scott has been a champion for the people of Puerto Rico as they recover from Hurricane Maria, and the South Florida business community is working tirelessly to assist in these efforts. Joining forces with CareerSource South Florida and Ana G. Méndez University will extend our reach and our ability to help these families.”
CareerSource South Florida and CareerSource Central Florida are continuing to provide employment services at Multi-Agency Resource Centers in the Orlando area and Miami International Airport to Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria. Several local workforce development boards have held recruiting fairs and workshops to assist Floridians and others impacted by last year’s hurricanes. For additional information about employment opportunities, please visit employflorida.com, available in English and Spanish.
During a Puerto Rico relief roundtable today Governor Rick Scott announced the signing of Executive Order 18-17 to extend Executive Order 17-259 for all 67 Florida counties in response to Hurricane Maria. This executive order will ensure that the state can continue to welcome families displaced by Hurricane Maria. This declaration will also allow the state to continue providing important resources and assistance needed to best accommodate the needs of families impacted by Hurricane Maria in Florida. Families displaced by Hurricane Maria are continuing to arrive in Florida and the state must do everything possible to help these families. Florida will continue to coordinate with FEMA to provide Maria survivors who have traveled to the state with important services such as housing assistance, crisis counseling and unemployment assistance.
Governor Scott said, “Today, to ensure Florida has every available resource to continue to assist families displaced by Hurricane Maria, I am extending Executive Order 17-259, declaring a State of Emergency in all 67 Florida counties. Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria and many families lost everything. As Puerto Rico rebuilds, Florida remains committed to doing everything we can to help the families impacted by Hurricane Maria and aid in the recovery process.”
To view Executive Order 18-17, click HERE.
For more information on what the State of Florida is doing to support Puerto Rico, click HERE.
Also Announces FEMA Case Management Agreement and Housing Information Request
Governor Rick Scott joined a town hall in Kissimmee with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and announced the following:
- A $1 million investment in 12 of Florida’s local workforce development boards to assist families displaced by Hurricane Maria seeking employment;
- Following Governor Scott’s request to the federal government, FEMA will now provide case management services for families displaced by Hurricane Maria now in Florida; and
- At the Governor’s direction, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) today sent letters to local housing authority officials and community leaders to identify local and federal resources so there is better coordination in the joint local, state and federal response to housing needs for Puerto Rican families in Florida. See one of the letters HERE.
Governor Scott said, “Today, I was proud to attend a town hall with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and announce a $1 million investment for 12 of Florida’s local workforce development boards to continue to assist families displaced by Hurricane Maria seeking employment. To date, the CareerSource Florida network helped more than 7,600 Puerto Ricans find jobs in Florida and this investment will connect even more individuals with great jobs. I was also proud to announce today that following my request, FEMA has agreed to provide case management services to Puerto Rican families in Florida. These services will assist families on an individual basis with planning for their recovery needs.
“Finally, today, at my direction, DEO sent letters to local housing authority officials and community leaders to help identify resources and to help assist in coordinating a joint local, state and federal response to housing needs for families displaced by Hurricane Maria. We look forward to receiving this information and continuing this important work with our local and federal partners to find housing solutions. Florida is the most welcoming state in the nation and we will continue to do everything possible to help the Puerto Rican families recovering from Hurricane Maria in our state.”
Executive Director of DEO Cissy Proctor said, “The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and our partners continue to work diligently with communities across the state to provide assistance to displaced Puerto Rican jobseekers and families. We are currently assessing housing and employment services so that we can better meet the needs of those who came to Florida for help after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.”
CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard said, “The CareerSource Florida network is a resource for all Floridians seeking new or better careers, and we are here to help make those connections for Hurricane Maria survivors looking to begin new lives. Our network of dedicated workforce professionals continues to work tirelessly to assist Floridians and businesses recovering from Hurricane Irma, new arrivals fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and any individual who needs employment assistance.”
Representative Bob Cortes said, “I’d like to thank Governor Scott and our many partners across the state for their continued efforts to support Puerto Rican evacuees coming to Florida and still working to rebuild months after Hurricane Maria. I’ve seen the devastation on the island first-hand and heard directly from evacuees in communities across the state. Many of these families lost everything, and finding job opportunities is a huge step forward in rebuilding their lives. The best assistance for any family going through a tough economic time is a job for the parents. Our Florida model should serve as an example for the entire country.”
Representative Rene Plasencia said, “As fellow Americans, and now fellow Floridians, our priority is connecting displaced Puerto Ricans with every resource they need to thrive in our state. With this additional funding, CareerSource will have the capacity to help hundreds of more families. We will continue to work with Governor Scott and our federal, state and local partners to address the needs of Puerto Rican evacuees to ensure full recovery for every family.”
Representative David Santiago said, “I’m proud to join Governor Scott and leaders across the state standing united for Puerto Rico and the full recovery of its families following Hurricane Maria. With over 254,000 job openings across the state, Florida is full of opportunities for evacuees to find a job to help support their families.”
The funds, allocated by CareerSource Florida and distributed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, are designated for employment services to assist evacuees in the five counties served by CareerSource Central Florida: Orange, Osceola, Lake, Sumter and Seminole counties. CareerSource North Central Florida, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, CareerSource Flagler Volusia, CareerSource Brevard, CareerSource Tampa Bay, CareerSource Pinellas, CareerSource Research Coast, CareerSource Palm Beach County, CareerSource Broward, CareerSource South Florida and CareerSource Southwest Florida also received funds to provide career assistance to evacuees. More than 7,600 individuals displaced by Hurricane Maria have sought services through the CareerSource Florida network’s local career centers thus far, primarily in the Orlando area, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
The types of services for individuals displaced by Hurricane Maria that will be provided by the 12 local workforce development boards through this additional funding may include some or all of the following:
- Individual career consulting services
- The creation of a Specialized Job Development Team
- Extended hours at our Career Services Centers
- Increase access to English for Speakers of Other Language services
- Hiring events
- Increased partnerships with community-based organizations
- Surveys to assess employment needs
- Social media and/or direct email and/or texting and/or paid outreach
Governor Scott’s announcement follows two recent roundtables to discuss Puerto Rico relief efforts held in Doral and Orlando. CareerSource Central Florida and CareerSource South Florida are providing employment services at Multi-Agency Resource Centers in the Orlando area and Miami International Airport to Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria. Several local workforce development boards have held recruiting fairs and workshops to assist Floridians and others impacted by Irma and Maria. For additional information about employment opportunities, please visit employflorida.com, available in English and Spanish.
Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida today announced that volunteers have served more than one million hours in Florida following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. To date, more than 22,500 volunteers have donated their time to assist those affected by these storms, and disaster relief organizations have documented 1,003,394 hours of volunteer service. Volunteer Florida continues to encourage Floridians who want to volunteer to find more information about their local volunteer organizations and opportunities HERE.
Governor Scott said, “As families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones, we are all thankful for the hard work of the many selfless volunteers who have responded to those in need following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. I’m proud to recognize the thousands of volunteers from across the state who have dedicated more than one million hours to helping others. We will continue to work together to help families recover from these storms and I encourage all Floridians who are able to consider volunteering in their own communities.”
As the state’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during, and after disasters, Volunteer Florida works closely with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, local and state government, the private sector, and nonprofit partners to coordinate volunteers and donations during times of need. Additionally, the Volunteer Florida Foundation administers the Florida Disaster Fund, the state’s official private fund for disaster response and recovery. The Florida Disaster Fund has raised more than $14.5 million to support those impacted by Hurricane Irma.
Volunteer Florida Chief Executive Officer Vivian Myrtetus said, “Volunteers are a critical part of Florida’s emergency response efforts, serving side-by-side with emergency management personnel in the days, weeks, months, and years following major disasters. We are proud of our state’s volunteers and grateful for the strong support of Governor Scott and the Division of Emergency Management.”
As Congress begins work on a third disaster supplemental bill to help fund recovery efforts in areas hit hardest by Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged Senate appropriators to include in the bill additional funding to help schools impacted, both directly and indirectly, by the storms.
It’s been nearly two months since Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico and already more than 140,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida, with tens of thousands more expected to arrive in the coming months. Among those evacuating to the mainland are thousands of children and students looking to continue their educations by enrolling in schools throughout Florida.
According to local school districts, more 3,300 displaced students have already enrolled in schools throughout Orange and Osceola counties, while more than 600 students have enrolled in schools in Miami-Dade County. The sudden influx of students can place a tremendous strain on a local school district’s budget and resources.
“In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congress acted to ensure additional resources were allocated to ensure our schools could serve and educate children, especially those displaced by the storms,” the lawmakers wrote. “We ask Congress to take a similar approach that recognizes the financial needs of our schools to support students and their families experiencing homelessness in this time of dire need.”
Congress is expected to take up and pass a third disaster supplemental bill before the end of the year.
In addition to Nelson, the letter sent today was signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Following is text of the senators’ letter, a pdf copy is available here.
November 14, 2017
Dear Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairman Blunt, and Ranking Member Murray,
As Congress crafts a supplemental appropriations package to help areas affected by recent disasters, including Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey, we ask you to consider the needs of local educational agencies (LEAs), Head Start agencies and early childhood education programs, in addition to colleges and universities. As many students are forced out of their schools as a result of these disasters, it is critical to think about the areas both directly affected by the natural disasters, as well as the areas that are enrolling displaced students.
Without additional resources, our public schools, and colleges and universities will not be able to create an environment where our students can learn, which is absolutely critical for students who have been forced out of their old schools.
The school systems in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are in a state of crisis. Many schools on the island remain closed, without electricity and water, one month after Hurricane Maria hit the island. It could be several weeks or even months before students can return to their schools.
With numerous weeks and possibly months of closed doors, thousands of children are displaced and meet the federal definition of homelessness in the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act. Students are further challenged by a lack of food and a safe space that they have come to rely on at school.
It is vital that Congress consider these needs and provide significant funds to address the needs of students, families, and staff the areas affected by recent storms and natural disasters.
Across Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, our schools, Head Start agencies, and other early childhood education programs, will need substantial financial assistance to restart school operations, capital funding to repair and rebuild facilities, and funding for supplemental health, including mental health services for students and staff affected by the storms.
As thousands of Puerto Rico residents are being forced to leave their homes and schools, LEAs in Florida, New York, and many other states are welcoming the families and children. While some have been able to temporarily relocate to mainland campuses, most students are left with few resources and limited options.
It is important that LEAs serving children from preschool through grade 12, Head Start agencies, colleges and universities have the necessary resources to provide a high-quality education for all of their students, especially evacuees who are trying to restart their education and rebuild their lives. In addition, these students may need additional language supports to learn the English language, which should be carefully considered as you put together additional aid packages.
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congress acted to ensure additional resources were allocated to ensure our schools could serve and educate children, especially those displaced by the storms. We ask Congress to take a similar approach that recognizes the financial needs of our schools to support students and their families experiencing homelessness in this time of dire need.
We stand ready to work with you to address the educational needs of all students affected by these devastating hurricanes. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Governor Rick Scott directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) to activate the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to Level 2. This means the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) has activated, enhancing coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies. Today’s activation is in response to theFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offering Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) to Puerto Rican families in Florida who were displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Governor Scott said, “Since Hurricane Maria made landfall and devastated Puerto Rico, Florida has taken every opportunity to help families impacted by this storm and assist Puerto Rico in its recovery. Last week, I traveled to Puerto Rico for the second time since Hurricane Maria at the request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló to help with their power restoration efforts. Today, with more than 140,000 Puerto Ricans having arrived in Florida following Hurricane Maria, I have directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to upgrade the activation status of the State Emergency Operations Center. This will ensure that local, state and federal agencies are all working together and enhance the delivery of resources at the state’s Disaster Relief Centers at Miami and Orlando international airports as they prepare to assist more families with services like crisis counseling, educational resources, job placement services, medical services and help getting housing and drivers licenses. This direction will also facilitate greater planning and support a more efficient and coordinated response as we respond to the needs of these families.”
All TSA expenses and costs will be paid for directly by FEMA with federal funding. All state emergency management costs related to sheltering for displaced Puerto Rican families in Florida are 100 percent reimbursable by FEMA due to the Florida’s federal Host State Agreement. For more information on the federal Host State Agreement between the State of Florida and FEMA, click HERE.
For more information on FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, click HERE.
As the rising number of Hurricane Maria refugees from Puerto Rico continues to pour into central Florida, state Senator Victor Torres (D-Orlando) echoed calls for FEMA to immediately dispatch emergency housing to temporarily shelter these families as they search for ways to rebuild their lives.
“The impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria are placing huge demands on our public services,” said Senator Torres, who gave impassioned testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday when he called on state Senate members to increase funds for state education, healthcare and housing needs. “We need to focus on building and expanding more housing options for Floridians and evacuees from the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico who are seeking refuge in our great state.”
Earlier this week, Central Florida Heart of Florida United Way Executive Director Jeff Hayward called on the Federal government, through FEMA, to engage in providing support for additional housing options in central Florida. Prior to Hurricane Irma and Maria, central Florida was already dealing with a shortage of available workforce housing. Based on the market value of rental properties in central Florida, workers would need to make $20.00 per hour in order to afford rent in the area.
Senator Torres’ district includes both Orange and Osceola counties which contain the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans living in Florida. FEMA has designated Florida as a Host-State for evacuees from the islands and approved costs could be eligible for 100 percent reimbursement by the federal government. Senator Torres is working with local and state officials for FEMA approval of both the deployment of mobile housing units and authorization of TSA (Temporary Sheltering Assistance) for evacuees to receive rental housing funds.
For more information please contact Al Yorston at (407) 846-5187