Officials expect influx of Puerto Ricans in NY

Posted: Updated:

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, many Long Islanders with ties to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are opening their doors for friends and family members in need.

With so many New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent, New York officials say they're expecting an influx of people from the island coming to the region.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on SUNY schools to offer in-state tuition to those affected by the hurricanes.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) says while an influx could have an effect on local services and schools, his concern is what the trend could do to the U.S. territory itself.

"The people who can come, who can afford to come, that's going to cause a brain drain in Puerto Rico," King says. "They've already lost over a million people in the last several years and if even more come, it's going to hurt the Puerto Rican economy."

Meanwhile, Long Islanders with ties to Puerto Rico are hearing of the devastation left in Maria's wake.

Karol Valazquez, of Babylon, says her in-laws in there are dealing with serious problems. Her husband's 94-year-old grandmother has a form of blood cancer and needs treatment immediately.  

"They said they couldn't give her chemo because I guess it has to be refrigerated. They couldn't give her that, so she is just waiting to get here," Valazquez says. And in the meantime, she says conditions are extremely difficult.

"They have to basically go to the store at 4 o'clock in the morning to wait on a six-hour line just to see if they can get water," she says.

Valazquez says her family hopes help gets to the island soon, before the situation there gets much worse.

"It's every man for himself, in a way," she says. "But I just wish that through this devastating time they could have a little reassurance that it will get better."

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