WXXI AM News

Winter gear, housing still needed for families from Puerto Rico in Rochester

Nov 27, 2017

Hilda Rosario Escher
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Families from Puerto Rico who relocated to Rochester could still use support, especially as winter settles in.

IBERO leaders and other community agencies met to give an update on families who have relocated to Rochester after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico.

Hilda Rosario Escher, President of IBERO estimates that over 1,000 people attended an orientation they held three weeks ago, welcoming displaced families to the area.

Monroe County has worked with hundreds as well, she says. Through last Friday, Monroe County's Department of Human Services has seen 332 families encompassing 453 individuals in offices applying for SNAP and/or temporary assistance.

Escher said the most pressing needs are health insurance and housing, both finding places and paying for them. They are seeking donations to help families put down security deposits.

Gladys Pedraza-Burgos, Chief Operating Officer at IBERO says winter gear is also critical.

"People from Puerto Rico don’t usually have winter clothing. So this is a new kind of experience, to experience the Rochester weather, we're used to that. So we're still looking for those kind of donations."

Donations can be dropped off at 214 Clifford Avenue, one of IBEROs locations.

With only 40% of the island reporting they have electricity, officials say that number doesn’t usually include residential homes.

Pedraza-Burgos says people are coming from both the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico for a number of reasons.

"I know that there are a few people who have come who have just come because of the inconvenience of not having water, electricity. But there are a vast number that’s significantly higher, that are coming to actually stay."

IBERO officials say their resource center for displaced families will be open every Thursday until the end of the year, when they will reevaluate what is needed.