Puerto Ricans in Connecticut Worry for Family Back Home

Many who came after Hurricane Maria lost everything and had to leave family back home.

As many families that came to Connecticut after Hurricane Maria still struggle to create a life for themselves here, they worry about family back home. Just one day after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast, the island experienced heavy rain and strong winds as Tropical Storm Karen passed over it.

“We received a lot of families desperate, they lost everything,” said Christina Jimenez, who works with Puerto Rican families at the Catholic Charities Institute for the Hispanic Family. The institute is one of the many nonprofits in the Hartford area that mobilized in response to Hurricane Maria two years ago.

“They lost their houses, they lost their furniture, they didn’t know what to do when they came over here. So they started from zero,” Jimenez told NBC Connecticut.

Jimenez said the majority of those who came to the state after Maria had to leave loved ones behind.

During hurricane season, she urges those here to make sure relatives still on the island are prepared.

“We want to make sure that the same thing that happened with those families doesn’t happen again,” explained Jimenez.

Of the thousands of families who came to the stage after Maria, an estimated 450 have stayed.

Mother of two, Sheila Rivera, is one of those people.

“It was a very difficult situation. we went through a lot,” Rivera said.

Rivera now calls Hartford home, but her mom and extended family still live in Puerto Rico.

“Not being able to be with them at these times is hard,” said Rivera.

Puerto Ricans in Hartford who came here before Maria two years ago are holding their breath as well.

“I worry about it because I still got family over there,” said Aida Acosta from Hartford.

Acosta said the lack of relief on the island after Maria is what scares her most when she hears of new storms headed in that direction.

“It was not enough, they just didn’t get the help they needed,” Acosta said. “They’re still scared out there.”

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