PATERSON, NJ- Senator Nellie Pou (D-Paterson) released the following statement regarding the Hurricane Maria Evacuee session to be held on Monday, June 11, in Paterson:


I am happy that we are able to bring these types of informational sessions to the residents of Paterson and surrounding areas to ensure that Hurricane Maria evacuees are made aware of the programs available to them through the State of New Jersey and the federal government.

We need to continue to shed light on the aftermath of one of the most damaging storms in recorded history that took the lives of almost 5,000 Puerto Ricans, leaving many homeless, jobless; and with little to no access to food, water, medicine, or other resources, and isolating many others in remote areas.

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While Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico nine months ago, the Island is still reeling from the storm and is expected to for several years. There are still 100,000 people without electricity and 55,000 still in temporary shelters. Even in areas where power has been restored, it is not consistent, sometimes people will have power for 12 hours and then they’ll be out for hours or sometimes even days before it gets restored again. Puerto Ricans are American citizens; we especially need to be there for them in their time of need. If we consider it unacceptable for New Jersey or any other State to exist under those previously mentioned conditions for even just days at a time, it should be an outrage that this is still the case in Puerto Rico.

We also need to, not only restore Puerto Rico’s infrastructure to what it was before Maria, but to make it better than before so it can withstand future storms of similar and greater magnitude. As we all know, hurricane season already began on June 1st, and we need to be ready to help out in the event another major hurricane were to hit the Island, while they are still recovering from Maria.

While the Governor’s Commission on Puerto Rico states that about 30,000 evacuees from Puerto Rico came to New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, we are still at this time assessing how many evacuees have come to Paterson.

Monday’s session is extremely important because it will help educate and acquaint evacuees here in Paterson with what resources are available to them here in New Jersey, whether they intend to make New Jersey their new permanent home, or return to Puerto Rico. More specifically, at this session, evacuees can meet with representatives from the NJ Department of Human Services to learn about state programs like NJ FamilyCare, WorkFirst NJ, the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP), and General Assistance programs and also learn if they qualify for health care, cash, housing, and/or food assistance.

There will also be representatives from FEMA to explain which disaster relief programs may be available to them from the federal government.

The event will also include representatives from the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other New Jersey volunteer organizations involved in disaster relief that will highlight the services they provide as well.