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Hurricane Maria Relief In Bridgeport: One Year Later

Courtesy of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
A sign asking for donations for Hurricane Maria relief inside the Puerto Rico Relief Center in Bridgeport earlier this year.

Thousands of people fled Puerto Rico for Connecticut after Hurricane Maria. In Bridgeport a founding member of Greater Bridgeport United worked with a coalition to open the Puerto Rico Relief Center. There she helped families settle into Connecticut’s largest city.  

Rosa J. Correa says it was natural that people came to Bridgeport from Puerto Rico.

“Some of the families that came here were people who had already retired and left and gone to Puerto Rico. They were going after years of hard work and saving some money now. ‘Me voy pah Puerto Rico y voy ahora descansar y disfrutar a mi Patria.’ I am going to Puerto Rico and I’m going to really rest and enjoy my island. And Maria comes through. So for them coming here was the natural thing. They came back home.”

Correa says the goal of the Puerto Rico Relief Center was to get the families the basics – food, housing, jobs, schools and winter clothing. She says the center worked with 365 families. And when they came into the center, Correa says she would meet with the families one at a time.

“And you know why? Because they came filled with fear, anxiety. And they were living in rooms, maybe 12 in a room. They could not express their feelings. Some of them just found a chair, sat down and cried.  For me I look back and I say, what a privilege to be able to help people and see them through this situation. Because now, you know we closed the center in March because there weren’t any more funds, but we wanted to enable people to get on their feet and move on.”

Correa says she was very disappointed by the Trump administration’s attitude towards the disaster. She says the best way to fight back is to make sure the people in the Carolinas have the support they need to recover from Hurricane Florence.  

“We have to do something now to help them. Because what they’re suffering, we’ve already experienced it and we don’t want them to suffer in the same way.”

Correa has one more piece of advice to anyone who wants to help. She says go vote on November 6.  

Ann is an editor and senior content producer with WSHU, including founding producer of the midday talk show, The Full Story.