Puerto Rican storm refugees in Connecticut facing eviction this weekend

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)

(WTNH) — Dozens of Puerto Rican hurricane refugees that came here to Connecticut are now in danger of being evicted from their hotels tomorrow. FEMA says their homes back on the island are “habitable,” so they should go back even though the homes have no roof, no electricity or running water.

The numbers of Puerto Rican storm refugee children from Pre-K through high school is growing every week and approaching 2,000.  One estimate places the total number of storm refugees from the island of all ages in Connecticut at 3,000. Most are staying with family here.

Related Content: Lawmakers call for more help for Puerto Ricans in Connecticut

But about 200 families are jammed into hotels around the state under FEMA’s “Temporary Shelter Assistance” program.  45 families have been told they no longer qualify and must return to the island by Sunday, because their homes there are “habitable” even though some have no roof, electricity or sanitary water. If they do have a roof, the only way to survive is with a generator.

Related Content: Connecticut senators push tor Puerto Rico storm relief

Pedro Bermudez is a Connecticut school teacher that retired to a farm back on the island. A farm that was destroyed.  He’s just back from Puerto Rico yesterday and says even if you have a generator, it’s too expensive to run them all the time, “It’s about $240 a month to keep the electric power at home.”

Related Content: Senators Blumenthal, Murphy say Puerto Rico still in ‘deplorable’ shape, needs U.S. help

With no jobs on the island, families could never afford that and so they face a January 13th deadline to leave their hotel.  “Those families are, you can imagine, in panic mode because that’s tomorrow,” said Aura Alvarado of the “Welcoming Center” in Hartford.  They saw more than a dozen new families with needs walk in this week.

Related Content: Numbers of hurricane refugees entering Connecticut growing

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) who recently returned from Puerto Rico surveying the situation, today sent a letter to the head of FEMA, saying, “I’m demanding that FEMA take steps to extend the ‘Temporary Shelter Assistance’ program so that people can stay in the hotels where they are now and at least have a roof over their head.”

Senator Blumenthal hosted an emergency meeting  with community leaders today, including Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army to find a roof for the families if the federal government fails them this weekend.

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