BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Survivors of Hurricane Maria continue to arrive in the Queen City as they leave the devastation in Puerto Rico.
About 200 families from the U.S. territory have relocated to Buffalo, including more than 100 children in Buffalo Public Schools.
Families are leaving behind an island still struggling to regain power and many don’t have any access to drinking water. They’re also leaving behind their home.
“These people have survived a natural disaster unlike any I could imagine and they have nothing, they are coming here with nothing, their lives have been destroyed. These people don’t want to leave their home, Puerto Ricans are very strong and proud, they love their island,” said Nadia Pizzaro with the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund.
As hundreds try to find comfort in Buffalo, they’re facing even more struggles. The biggest need for hurricane victims is housing.
Pizzaro says there is a housing shortage in Buffalo, specifically affordable housing. Many families are sleeping on kitchen floors.
“You’ll have a family that will end up taking in seven people that do not have beds for those people, so couches, floors get filled up really quickly,” said Pizzaro.
The Puerto Rican community says they’re expecting more residents in the coming days and the need for help is greater than ever.
“We’re anticipating a second wave as well because people are just getting out of Puerto Rico wherever they can go, but the need still continues on. The young population, people with children, they’re the ones that’s leaving because they want their children to continue with their education,” said Miguel Santos.
Next week a public call for donations will be put out. Those coming to Buffalo from Puerto Rico are in need of furniture, household supplies, coats, boots and winter clothes. The drop-off location hasn’t been announced yet.
In the meantime, people can drop off winter clothes and baby clothes to the Harvest House on Jefferson Avenue