In keeping with Central Florida’s long history of neighbors helping neighbors and our culture of care and compassion, Orange County Government collaborated and partnered with numerous organizations and local agencies to assist in relief and recovery efforts for our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands impacted by Hurricane Maria.
This resource page provides information in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane that made landfall on Sept. 18, 2017 in Dominica before striking Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 20.
In the months following Hurricane Maria, Orange County worked with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Florida, community and faith-based organizations, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, the Office of First Lady of Puerto Rico - Mrs. Beatriz Rosselló, the Hispanic Federation, the Heart of Florida United Way and the American Red Cross on relief and recovery efforts for our neighbors from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The Orlando Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), which offered services to those impacted by Hurricane Maria, closed on March 30, 2018. According to the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), 34,000 individuals impacted by Maria were served at the MARC.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, together with the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners and the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, hosted the Health and Family Expo on Aug. 3 & 4, 2018, at the Orange County Convention Center to provide information and resources to Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The two-day event featured assistance for evacuees in Central Florida.
In addition to providing information related to housing, employment, education, health and wellness from numerous Central Florida businesses and vendors, the Expo showcased the assistance efforts of the Puerto Rico Health Department where Puerto Ricans were able to apply for vaccination records, birth, death and marriage certificates. For continued assistance in obtaining these and other official documents, please visit or contact the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) office at 6925 Lake Ellenor Drive, Suite 100, Orlando, FL 32809 or 407-776-9000. The PRFAA is operated by Ilia Torres, Regional Director.
On behalf of Orange County Government, we extend our sincerest thanks and gratitude to the many first responders, military servicemen and women, businesses, faith communities, citizen groups and local partners, as well as the many local, state and federal agencies who worked to provide aid in Hurricane Maria’s recovery efforts.
Those with potential unmet needs are encouraged to contact the following resources:
- Disaster case manager, if applicable.
- FEMA Disaster Assistance Hotline at (800) 621-3362 regarding FEMA applications for disaster assistance.
- Dial 2-1-1 to connect with local organizations that may have available resources to support recovery.
- Visit www.floridahousing.org to find available housing.
- For housing assistance see public housing agencies listed on the Hurricane Maria link below).
- Visit www.employflorida.com for job assistance and training.
- For additional information on local and state resources please contact the State Assistance Information Line at (800) 342-3557 or visit the Hurricane Maria Information Page at www.floridadisaster.org/info/maria
United for Puerto Rico | How You Can Help
United for Puerto Rico is an initiative brought forth by the First lady of Puerto Rico, Mrs. Beatriz Rosselló in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank plays a vital role in responding to emergencies such as floods, tornadoes and hurricanes throughout the state. As an affiliate of Feeding America, Second Harvest responds to both national and local disasters that take place.Find out how you can volunteer at www.feedhopenow.org/disaster.
United Way Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund
The Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief fund was created to assist with emergency assistance and basic needs for those affected. Every dollar raised alleviated immediate storm-related needs in Puerto Rico, long-term community recovery and displacement assistance for families in Central Florida.
Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration
The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) is dedicated to the task of ably representing and advancing the interests of the Government of Puerto Rico before federal, state, and local governments.
Rollins College Discounted Transfer Spring Program
Rollins College is assisting Puerto Rican and Caribbean students affected by recent hurricanes in continuing their collegiate studies with a discounted transfer program for the spring semester. This program is extended to degree-seeking students who are currently enrolled in Puerto Rican and Caribbean colleges and universities with the goal that those displaced will have a chance to continue their studies. Eligible, admitted students will be charged a flat fee of $8,500 for the spring 2018 semester only. The fee covers tuition, room and board.
Valencia College Continuing Education & Training
Valencia College has multiple education and training programs to assist individuals who migrated to the Orlando Metro area.
UCF Puerto Rico Educational Relief Efforts
To assist current and prospective students, the University of Central Florida has established a website that contains information about admissions, registration, transfer and transition services, and student support programs and services. The UCF Board of Trustees extended the tuition reduction, which started spring 2018, through 2023 for students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Seminole State College Out-Of-State Tuition Waiver
To assist college students relocating to Central Florida from areas hardest hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Seminole State College’s Out-Of-State Tuition Waiver will waive out-of-state tuition fees. Under this plan, students from Houston, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have been displaced by these storms but wish to continue their education at Seminole State can apply for this waiver, which will be in effect for 12 months from the date they apply, not to extend beyond Spring Term 2019.
Orange County Library System
As part of their Language Lab, Orange County Library System (OCLS) branches provide a variety of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs, some with instructors and some that are software-based and self-paced. Residents that have been impacted by Hurricane Maria may call (407) 835-7323 to request a library card.
*Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs served on the Board of County Commissioners from Jan. 2011 through Nov. 2018. Jacobs previously served as Orange County District One Commissioner from 2000 to 2008.