FEMA to relocate about 3,000 Maria survivors to US mainland

Waritza Alejandro embraces her mother-in-law Maritza Ortiz, before boarding a flight to Tampa with her husband Christian Vega and their daughter Tiana, in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. The couple lost their home to Hurricane Maria. The disaster wrought by Maria has set off an anguished debate across Puerto Rico, where friends, family and co-workers are arguing fiercely over the morality of leaving the blacked-out island vs. staying to fulfill a patriotic duty to rebuild. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide passenger flights to relocate about 3,000 Puerto Ricans still sleeping in emergency shelters to temporary housing on the U.S. mainland.

FEMA spokesman Ron Roth said FEMA is providing the priority transportation assistance at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

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Thousands of the island territory’s U.S. citizens are still homeless more than seven weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. There is also a dire shortage of available temporary housing, such as apartments or hotel rooms.

Roth said FEMA is working to establish agreements with both Florida and New York to accept the relocated survivors. More than 140,000 Puerto Ricans have left since the storm hit Sept. 20. Some experts estimate more than 300,000 more could leave in the next two years.

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