Jacksonville donations site for displaced Puerto Ricans needs new home

Numerous Puerto Rican families have been displaced by Hurricane Maria, and the center designed to help them on the First Coast is now closed.

Hurricane Maria relief efforts are at a standstill for a local organization whose resource center was forced to close its doors Thursday.

According to the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Jacksonville, approximately 800 Puerto Rican families were displaced to the First Coast.

Nancy Quinones, president of the Jacksonville Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, says they've been stockpiling donations in a resource center on Atlantic Boulevard at Kernan Boulevard.

Quinones estimates 100 people visited the resource center weekly for help with supplies, translation and information. 

"We were giving them supplies to last about five days, everything you need to start a new life in a place," said Quinones.

A private business provided them building space for one month, however the space is needed again for other things, leaving the center without a home. 

"Most of [the people who contact me] are in Puerto Rico coming, many people call me every day 25 to 35 calls, saying 'I'm going to Jacksonville, I hear you have a center and it's closing, where can we get the help right now?'"  Quinones said. "I don't have an answer."

With much of the island still without power over a month since the hurricane, evacuees continue to leave the island for the mainland. 

Duval County Public Schools says they have 210 new students who were displaced due to natural disaster. One hundred and thirty six of those students are from Puerto Rico. 

In addition to a new space for their operations, Quinones said evacuees need housing, jobs and access to healthcare while they are staying in an unfamiliar place. 

To donate or find resources call (904) 291-1471. You can also visit the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce website.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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