More than 58,000 people have come to Florida from Puerto Rico since Oct. 3 following the destruction caused to the island by Hurricane Maria. They arrived in Florida through Orlando or Miami international airports, or Port Everglades.
The numbers were released late Wednesday afternoon by the Governor’s Office.
More than 10,000 of those who have arrived have sought assistance at one of the state’s Disaster Relief Centers in Orlando or Miami. Those centers are staffed with workers from state and federal agencies who are able to provide information regarding schools, housing and other social services that evacuees will likely need.
The state has been preparing for an influx of evacuees who are attempting to flee the devastation left behind by Maria when the hurricane ripped through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.
The storm wiped out the island’s power grid. Residents have had a tough time finding water and food.
Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Oct. 2 in anticipation of the arrival of a large number of Puerto Ricans. The declaration allows the state to respond quicker in assisting evacuees.
The governor has ordered the state’s public schools to waive state rules and regulations to ensure the smooth transition of displaced children. He also directed that requirements for teachers who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria be waived.
Scott also authorized state colleges to waive rules and requirements so that Puerto Rican students can more quickly enroll in a college. All 28 Florida College System institutions have agreed to offer in-state tuition to Puerto Rican students who were impacted by Hurricane Maria.
About 1 million Puerto Ricans currently live in Florida making the state a likely location for evacuees to relocate to, either temporarily or permanently.