Following Hurricane Maria, Hundreds of Puerto Ricans Seek Refuge In Syracuse


Hurricane Maria caused a horrific amount of damage throughout Puerto Rico. Now, with nowhere to go, many residents of Puerto Rico have been forced to flee to cities across the United States.

According to, nearly 500 Puerto Ricans have moved to Central New York since September 20, the day Maria struck the island.

Syracuse’s human service agency, the Spanish Action League, projects that it has already provided assistance to 500 displaced individuals since late September.

“Our agency has turned upside-down and exploded since this hurricane,” said Elisa Morales, director of the Spanish Action League.

The west side of Syracuse has a large Puerto Rican population, so many of the new arrivals have relatives and friends they can stay with for the time being. Although some of the Puerto Ricans will likely return to their homeland after a few weeks or months, many of them won’t be as fortunate.

“They have nothing to go back to,” Morales added.

On average, households in the U.S. have 300,000 items inside them, along with constant power and electricity. Approximately 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico have been without power for months and many of their homes have been completely leveled by this horrific storm.

“We have underestimated the emotional impact that these new community members are coming here with,” added Rita Paniagua, the community relations manager at Molina Healthcare. “You think they are fine, then all of a sudden they burst into tears when they remember what they went through.”

According to the U.S. Census, the 7,720 Puerto Ricans living in Syracuse make up 5.3% of the city’s entire population.

The Spanish Action League has been shipping donated goods to the people remaining in Puerto Rico, including food, toiletries, and other necessities.

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