Connecticut

Hurricane Maria Victims Found Help, Home in Connecticut

Many of those who came to the state after the hurricane have since returned to Puerto Rico, but about 450 displaced families stayed here.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont and others celebrated their efforts to help 10,000 Puerto Rican families that came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017.

Many of those who came to the state after the hurricane have since returned to Puerto Rico, but about 450 displaced families stayed here.

“It’s hard,” says Ashlyn Gonzalez, whose family moved to Connecticut after the hurricane. “I still have photos and sometimes we look through them and we say ‘wow, it’s unbelievable how all of it be destroyed in seconds.’”

Ashlyn’s home, her belongings and everything she and her husband had worked for were gone from one day to the next after Hurricane Maria.

“We are alive. Thank god for that,” she says.

On Tuesday at the Catholic Charities Institute for the Hispanic Family, Lamont described helping families like Ashlyn’s “the heart that is Connecticut.”

“These are Connecticut values,” Lamont said. “A lot folks donated their time, donated their money for a cause that maybe for some of them seemed far away.”

Other leaders congratulated the state’s relief efforts so far and emphasized the work that still needs to be done.

“We as a country have not dedicated anywhere near the level of resources that this crisis of the hurricane demanded, or that the daily struggle of families and communities like Hartford around the country demands,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

Ashlyn says she is grateful for the assistance she received from FEMA and from the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness when she came here. She is now living in Portland with the help of those funds.

“It’s been a relief, because for a few months we didn’t have any money. We were able to set those funds given to us aside for rent.”

Now, Ashlyn is following through with a promise she says she made to God while she prayed for her life during the hurricane: to spend her life giving back to those in need. She is helping other displaced families through an organization called Lily Sin Barreras, LLC.

“It comes from my heart, to help.”

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