WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — After a series of earthquakes and aftershocks, buildings in Puerto Rico are crumbling. That’s what inspired a local Waterbury school district to step up this week.
Still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico was rocked by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake last week, and they’ve been hit with some strong aftershocks in the following days.
Many families are sleeping on the streets outside their homes, fearing another quake will bring the house down on them.
A large number of island residents have left the island to stay with family elsewhere. Several have come right here to Connecticut.
The superintendent of Waterbury public schools announced Monday they are willing to help any students from Puerto Rico who need to relocate.
Over the weekend, News 8 spoke with neighbors fleeing the island. They just missed the most recent large quake that struck Saturday. But they said when the first big one hit last week, they didn’t know if they would survive.
“I’m looking at the ceiling if it’s gonna cave in,” Albert Rodriguez says. “Every day, every other hour we were getting tremors.”
Connecticut state leaders are also looking into how they can help. Governor Ned Lamont has spoken to lawmakers saying the Connecticut National Guard is ready to go if need be.
Hartford leaders already announced plans for relief drives – water, food, and medical supplies – and get them to the island. Bridgeport, too, will announce plans to help on Monday.
Additionally, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker announced the Elm City will be opening their doors to any families who are fleeing Puerto Rico after the series of earthquakes shook the island.
New Haven is willing to house families and get their students into classrooms with help from the Board of Education.
Mayor Elicker told News 8, “We have a particular history with Puerto Rico, we have a very large Puerto Rican population and during Hurricane Maria we opened our doors to approximately 300 families.”
He says two families have already made their way to New Haven and their two students are currently being placed in New Haven public schools.
Elicker says adding students into the classrooms throughout the district shouldn’t be an issue because of the constant flux within the school system
“The New Haven school system is always in flux and frankly we often times have people coming in midyear and families leaving to other communities.”– Mayor Justin Elicker, New Haven
While there’s no way to tell how many families will be fleeing to New Haven, Elicker says they want to be prepared.
“It’s difficult to tell with our internal conversations right now were not expecting that many but we want to be prepared.”– Mayor Justin Elicker, New Haven
Any money New Haven puts forward should be reimbursed, according to Elicker. Right now, they’re waiting for President Trump to sign the document to finalize FEMA funding for the Puerto Rico earthquakes.
Bridgeport, Waterbury and Hartford are a few of the other cities in the state also opening their doors to families from Puerto Rico.