Cleveland organizations come together to aid displaced Hurricane Maria families

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CLEVELAND - Families whose lives were devastated when Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico are finding new homes here in Northeast Ohio. Tuesday, several organizations came together, making it easier for them to call Cleveland home.

"This hurricane came, so I lose my job, so my house where I used to live, it was wood, so it gets like...done," said hurricane survivor Hector Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s home was destroyed after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. He, his girlfriend, Krystal Cabrera, and their four-month-old son came to Cleveland to start a new life with relatives.,

"They call us and they said 'oh, if you want to move over here, there's jobs here, so we decided to move to here," said Rodriguez.

Hector and Krystal are among more than a hundred people who showed up at the Old Brooklyn Neighborhood Family Service Center on Cleveland's west side Tuesday.

Several organizations, including the Cuyahoga County department of Health and Human Services and the Spanish American Committee, held a resource fair to make their transition to Northeast Ohio easier.

"We decided to do a resource fair today that really brought together all of the human service resources into a single environment, into a single office," said David Merriman, assistant director for the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services.

"They need food stamps, they need housing, they need shelter, they need clothing…some of them are bringing five or six family members, they're sleeping in roofs, in the attic, they're sleeping in the basements and there may be five people sleeping in one bedroom," said Ramonita Vargas, executive director of the Spanish American Committee.

"She just got here a week-and-a-half ago, she came with her two-year-old and she said she lost everything, her home, her job, her car," said hurricane survivor Nashly Maldonado, through an interpreter Maldonado.

She says she and her daughter had to leave Puerto Rico for medical reasons.

"She has asthma, so the humidity from Puerto Rico was affecting her a lot and the situation there was no electricity, no water, so they were both getting affected," Maldonado said.

"This is not gonna stop, I foresee seeing about 250 families, probably by the end of the year, and this is going to be continual throughout next year," said Vargas.