How many Puerto Ricans moved to Fla. after Hurricane Maria?

ORLANDO, Fla. – March 6, 2018 – The U.S. Census Bureau issues a report on state-to-state mobility, but those won't come out for a year or more. In the meantime, a series of government databases can offer insights into the number of Americans living in Puerto Rico who migrated to the mainland after Hurricane Irma devastated the island.

Government figures showing population changes

  • The Orlando/Kissimmee/Sanford region grew by almost 3,000 new residents following Hurricane Maria in September, according to CNN.
  • The U.S. Postal Service reported more than 2,000 change of address forms filled out for Florida zip codes.
  • The Department of Education reported that the state added 11,500 new students after the hurricane.
  • More than 5,000 FEMA claims for Puerto Rican property were made from people living in Florida.

The statistics may not reflect all new Florida residents from Puerto Rico, however. University of Central Florida sociology professor Fernando Rivera has studied the storm's impact on Central Florida. He said the FEMA numbers, for example, may not reflect new residents.

"What it tells you accurately is when people applied for it, and where they were when they applied, but it doesn't tell you where they are right now," Rivera says.

Since Puerto Ricans are American citizens, there is no application process to move, which means no formal count. But Rivera said the numbers are vital for funding for schools and local governments in Puerto Rico and Central Florida.

Source: (Florida) (02/26/18) Alvarez, Nancy

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