Stories of Recovery – #PuertoRico #Maria Evacuees:
In November 2017, Israel, his pregnant wife, their 12-year-old daughter, and 68-year-old father, for life-safety and access to pre-natal care, evacuated from Puerto Rico to NYC after enduring two months without electricity or potable water in their home.
Three days after arriving, they visited NYC Emergency Management’s Hurricane Evacuee Service Center, where NYDIS staff provided them with winter clothing and vouchers for school supplies, and emergency food assistance donated by Delivering Good and UMCOR – United Methodist Committee On Relief. Without local family to support them, the family entered a shelter in the Bronx, eventually moving to a FEMA TSA hotel in Queens.
Within a week, Israel secured a full-time janitorial job, allowing him to provide for his family. But in May 2018, his wife began experiencing life-threatening pregnancy complications that resulted in frequent hospitalization and bed rest, leaving Israel no choice but to quit his job. Without income, he returned to NYDIS for maternity wear, clothes for his daughter and newborn, and a crib. When the family was transferred back to a shelter, NYDIS effectively advocated that they be given a private apartment with access to a kitchen, for the health of his wife and newborn.
In January of 2019, the family was assigned a Disaster Case Manager (DCM) at Urban Health Plan, Inc.. After reportedly being harassed at the shelter for weeks, including several explicit death threats, the DCM escalated the family’s case to the shelter director and NYPD. Within one week the shelter located a low-income apartment for the family, in Manhattan. Once again, Israel found a union job doing building maintenance in Queens and could now afford the security deposit and first month’s rent for their apartment, but he did not have enough savings to purchase furniture for his family.
Through NYDIS’ NYC-PR Unmet Needs Roundtable the family received 3 bedroom sets and mattresses, a couch, and a dining room set funded by The Salvation Army Greater New York Division.