Federal funding expires Thurs. for those who fled Puerto Rico -- now what?


Nearly five months after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, hundreds of evacuees are living in Massachusetts and struggling to get on their feet.

But their federal funding expires Thursday.

City councilors estimate more than 700 evacuees from Puerto Rico have settled in Worcester.

Margarita Quinana is one of those evacuees who left everything behind.

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She said when Hurricane Maria roared over Puerto Rico, she woke up to a nightmare.

She said she tried to stay, but after living on a generator for a month the food and gas ran out and she and her family were forced to board a plane for Boston with only a few backpacks.

Now months later, she and her family of four are living out of a hotel room in Worcester.

Starting Thursday, the FEMA benefits that pay for that room have expired.

Now city and state leaders are frantically working to put together an emergency grant that can help bridge the gap.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern saw the ongoing devastation in Puerto Rico only a few weeks ago.

He’s been pushing FEMA to extend the benefits, and some evacuees now have funding until March 20.

But he said that’s only a Band-Aid.

Quinana told Boston 25 News when she found out the funding was ending it took her back to the day when the hurricane hit.

FEMA has provided many evacuees with vouchers to help them rent apartments, but a city official in Worcester said finding enough affordable housing to fill those vouchers has been a challenge.

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