MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was a full-blown exodus as Puerto Ricans left their island home after Hurricane Maria.
Some estimates set the number of 200,000 arriving in the U.S., a good number here in Florida.
They faced a housing shortage and steep rent but a FEMA voucher program picked up the tab for hotel stays.
However, that program was set to end January 13th.
Anna and her son Andres arrived in Miami and FEMA issued them vouchers to stay in a hotel.
Ana, who asked us to use her first name only, said, “I need a place to stay and thanks to FEMA they are helping us. I got a job already and I’m working.”
Her son is now enrolled at St. Thomas University studying nursing but things were looking bleak as the FEMA program was set to end January 13 with many Maria victims still getting settled.
Local Puerto Rican leaders met with Governor Scott seeing what he could do about it.
Next, a local activist also worked with Senator Bill Nelson.
“I think it’s a good thing for Puerto Ricans,” Luis De Rosa said. “Unfortunately the majority of Puerto Ricans that are in town are unable to go back to Puerto Rico because their houses were damaged or destroyed.”
The good news for Ana and Andres is that FEMA granted an extension through February 10, a lifeline for Ana, who said, “I’m trying to save money to get my own place for my son and I and I’m going to keep working.”
She isn’t dealing with this on her own though.
“The next order of business is we’re going with our network of friends to possibly find her an apartment,” De Rosa added.
Across Florida there are currently 1627 victims of hurricane Maria staying in FEMA approved hotels.