Florida Gov makes 5th trip to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
SAN JUAN – Gov. Rick Scott was traveling to Puerto Rico on Monday at the invitation of Puerto Rico Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera Marín, according to a release Friday.
Scott, who is vying for a Senate seat, has been on the island five times since Hurricane Maria tore through on Sept. 20. His office says his trip agenda includes offering “guidance, advice and assistance” regarding the hurricane recovery efforts underway.
Scott is expected to meet with “emergency management officials, federal officials and Puerto Rican leaders. The Governor will also be visiting with volunteer workers with the American Red Cross,” the release reads, “to thank them for their continued efforts.”
In the aftermath of Maria, Scott has taken several actions to assist the island such as leading a delegation of Florida utility providers, activating the State Emergency Response Team to assist families displaced by the hurricane and writing to the Senate to advocate for passage of a disaster relief package.
The governor also issued an order that permitted Puerto Rican workers such as nurses, teachers and real estate agents to work in Florida without needing state certification, which is thought to have spurred further outmigration from the island after Maria.
The number of Puerto Ricans living in Florida before the September hurricanes struck the island was widely estimated at more than one million. According to the Orlando Sentinel, in January Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs indicated in a housing forum alongside Scott that there were “300,000 people coming to the state” after Maria.
A study by Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies found that many have since returned to the island. It estimates that, as of March, some 56,500 relocated permanently to Florida and that more than 135,000 had moved stateside.
Scott is competing for the Senate seat against Democrat Bill Nelson, who has also traveled to the island to assist with the disaster recovery efforts.