Puerto Rico Evacuees Prepare for Cold Temperatures

People who evacuated from Puerto Rico because of hurricanes months ago are grateful for shelters and warming centers during Connecticut's cold spell this week. 

Ruthie Williams is staying in New Britain at the Friendship Center on Arch Street.

"It’s really cold out here," Williams told NBC Connecticut.

The shelter is providing meals and a warm place for people sleep out of the bitter cold.

"It’s bad because if I come outside and I’m not properly dressed. I’ll catch an asthma attack because of the heat, coming into the cold," Williams said. 

The Friendship Center accommodates 52 people year-round and with the bitter cold this week, the executive director said they can take in 18 more.

This week, 211 Connecticut line has assisted 231 calls from people who fled Puerto Rico following devastating hurricanes and 2,428 people in total. The kinds of assistance provided includes FEMA help, housing, disaster case management, clothing, SNAP assistance and jobs.

As of Dec. 19, the total number of students from Puerto Rico who have enrolled in Connecticut Public Schools is 1,772.

Maria Reyes, who was also displaced from Puerto Rico, said housing and medical supplies are her greatest need. She left her home after losing everything and arrived in Connecticut on Christmas day. She said she's used to the much warmer weather back home. 

"I’m doing the best I can. I just got here. Looking for the help they’ve given me and I appreciate it," Reyes told NBC Connecticut.

Reyes is thankful to the relief center at Capitol Region Education Council (CREC). They are providing food, clothing, gift cards and new found friendships to Reyes and others like Miriam Barrera.

For Barrera, the cold weather has taken its toll.

"With the cold temperature, I’m depressed," Barrera said. 

Governor Dannel Malloy said he has a whole team working to help those who fled Puerto Rico for Connecticut.

"We are attempting to get the federal government to help us and so I’ve asked for instance if someone was eligible for a housing subsidy in Puerto Rico make them eligible for a housing subsidy in Connecticut. It just makes sense we are concerned I think on Jan. 13 a number of temporary relief efforts the federal government has funded will expire we’ve asked for those to be suspended as well, I have a whole list of folks working on this on a daily basis," Malloy said. 

The communications director at the CREC relief center said they need volunteers and donations to help those who have come to Connecticut.

The governor activated its severe cold weather protocol to ensure adequate shelter space during the severe cold weather through Jan. 2, 2018.

Head online to www.211ct.org to find warming centers in your community.

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