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Puerto Rican resource center opening in Jacksonville after devastating hurricane

The center will help families get acclimated if they choose to leave the island to call Jacksonville home.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Puerto Rican community is coming together to help families whose lives were destroyed by Hurricane Fiona.

Work has begun on a new Puerto Rican resource center to help families get settled after they move from the island to Jacksonville.

"Lost the houses, bridges are down," said Jacksonville Puerto Rican and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Director Nancy Quinones. "The mud came with all this strength."

Quinones has family all around the island of Puerto Rico.

While most are doing okay, she still hasn't heard from her cousins.

"I'm very nervous," said Quinones. "I want to know about them because they were at the part where it was most affected."

While Quinones anxiously waits to hear more, she's busy here in Jacksonville.

As director of the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Chamber, she's working to open a permanent Puerto Rican resource center in Jacksonville's urban core.

"For the whole Hispanic community that comes and has problems with housing and health care," said Quinones. "We can help them because we are going to have case managers here."

While the resource center will soon be able to help families in Jacksonville, several Jacksonville-based shipping companies have already been able to make a difference in Puerto Rico. 

Jaxport is responsible for nearly 90% of the Puerto Rican sea trade.

A spokesperson for Trailer Bridge, a shipping company that sends several loads a week to the island, says the storm only delayed its schedule by a few hours.

It's already had a shipment arrive, with another on its way this week.

She says they'll send another out of Jacksonville next week with supplies geared specifically for hurricane recovery.

Meanwhile, Quinones will wait to hear from her cousins, and any families looking to call the River City home.

"Whatever you need, please come to us," said Quinones.

The Puerto Rican resource center will open Oct. 12 at 1336 Myrtle Avenue North.

The chamber is seeking donations to help get it started, and could use help setting the building up.

Community members will be painting the building this Saturday. You can contact Quinones at 904-483-1935.

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