As more than 300,000 American citizens who sought refuge in Florida are poised to be left in the lurch as FEMA and the state shutter the last multi-agency resource center in Orlando, state Senator Victor Torres is calling for greater cooperation between Florida Governor Rick Scott and the governor of Puerto Rico to reestablish a central point of assistance.
“With FEMA shutting down help to evacuees and Florida closing the last MARC center in the state, people are being left with no central location to visit to get information for much needed community services,” said Torres. “With so many Hurricane Maria refugees from Puerto Rico, it seems only logical to have a service center located in central Florida to serve the needs of the largest Puerto Rican community in our state.”
Last Friday, March 30, FEMA and the State of Florida closed the last remaining Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in Orlando. Additionally, two weeks ago, the Puerto Rican government closed the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs (PRFAA) office located in Kissimmee and reopened a new facility in Orlando a few days later.
In a letter sent Friday to Governor Scott, Senator Torres is calling for a “One-Stop” Service Center to be opened at the new Orlando PRFAA office, which could be staffed by State Agencies like DCF and Access Florida to assist evacuees with applications for financial assistance as well as using available non-profit and community organization volunteers. He said he is hopeful that Florida’s Governor Scott and Puerto Rican Governor Rossello can find a way to make this service center a reality.
“The people who fled the devastation from Hurricane Maria left with little more than the clothes on their backs,” said Torres. “As a state with so many deep cultural and family ties with the island, we have a humanitarian obligation to keep the lines of communication and aid open as fellow Americans attempt to rebuild their lives in the Sunshine State.”