Numbers of hurricane refugees entering Connecticut growing

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2017 file photo, homes and other buildings destroyed by Hurricane Maria lie in ruins in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's governor on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 ordered authorities to review all deaths reported since Hurricane Maria hit nearly three months ago amid accusations that the U.S. territory has vastly undercounted storm-related deaths. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– The state’s five “help centers” for Puerto Rican and other Caribbean island hurricane refugees are receiving hundreds of requests for help each week.   The Centers are located in New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain and Bridgeport.  Nearly 2,000 new kids have been enrolled in Connecticut schools and more are expected in the weeks ahead.

3-year-old Kenishaliz Perez has just arrived in Connecticut from Puerto Rico, along with her sister 4-year-old Kenializ Rivera Perez. They will soon be ready for pre-school, and part of the influx of 1,883 school age children entering Connecticut schools in the past few weeks.  There are over 173 in New Haven, 268 in Waterbury, 213 in New Britain, 388 in Hartford, and 150 in Meriden.

Related Content: Stressful first Christmas in Connecticut for hurricane refugees

38-year-old Efrain Padua brought his wife and three girls here the week before Christmas. The oldest girl is already in school and Efrain was looking at apartments today and he has a job saying, “I start the 12th of this month. I’m going to start the job. I’m pretty happy about that, now I’m going to be able to provide for my family again.”

Related Content: Federal funding for hurricane refugees to run out in 3 weeks

But not everyone is so lucky. Lourdes Vazquez came to one of the five welcoming centers today, along with her sister and brother in law looking for heavier clothing. Like Efrain, they lost everything.  “The River went inside the home and with the storm everything went out the house,” said Vazquez.

Related Content: Local radio station gives updates from Puerto Rico to people in Connecticut

The state’s 2-1-1 call center has received thousands of calls for relocation help for Puerto Rican and other Caribbean island families.  There was some good news today; temporary housing vouchers for Puerto Rican hurricane refugees that were to expire next week have been extended to March 20th.

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