Local group helps families impacted by Hurricane Maria

- A local non-profit estimates at least 90 families have moved from Puerto Rico to Minnesota in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Many of those families are starting from scratch.

Communidades Latinas Unidos en Servicio (Latin Communities United in Service) or CLUES, hosted an open house on Saturday, aiming to match displaced families with needed resources, some as simple as proper winter clothing.

“We saw a lot of families that were carrying their babies with, like, big t-shirts and putting blankets on them,” said Camila Mercado-Michelli, youth career pathways coordinator for CLUES. “So we were trying to get sweaters and coats so they can keep themselves warm.”

The number of displaced Puerto Ricans in Minnesota is relatively small compared to other states, but that number reflects a trend: authorities project hundreds of thousands of people will move from the island to the U.S. mainland over the next couple of years.

“They feel a relief when they get here,” Mercado-Michelli said. “It's very overwhelming what they're going through. Just knowing that we're here to listen to them and help them, it takes that weight off.”

CLUES is helping the families connect with housing and employment resources, as well as offering assistance with FEMA relief applications. 

The organization is offering appointments and providing walk-in hours at both its Minneapolis and St. Paul offices. The St. Paul office is located at 797 E. 7th Street, and offers walk-in hours on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m--4 p.m and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m--4 p.m.

The Minneapolis office is located at 720 E. Lake Street and offers walk-in hours on Wednesdays from 1--4 p.m. and Fridays from 1--3 p.m.

More information can be found on the CLUES website.

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