Professor: Puerto Ricans may be moving to areas like NY post hurricane

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PURCHASE -

A SUNY Purchase college professor says those who survived Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico may be seeking new homes and jobs and moving to areas like New York.

Dr. Leandro Benmergui, of SUNY Purchase College, says there are already Puerto Ricans from the island going to Florida, New Jersey and New York.

The Latin American studies professor says the U.S. could see a new migration of Puerto Ricans who were born in New York and moved back to the island – only to reluctantly return.

The island was already plagued with a fiscal crisis and high unemployment.

"They are leaving Puerto Rico because of a natural disaster. They don't need a visa to come to the mainland, they just need to get on a flight and come to the United States,” he says.

Louis Baerga says he didn’t want to leave Puerto Rico, but the hurricane left his family’s home in Guaynabo with a huge amount of damage.

"Huge 100-foot trees uprooted, power lines all over the place…It looked like a bomb went off,” he says.

Baerga says no one had water or was getting supplies, and he waited on line for seven hours to get gasoline.

He is now staying with his mother in Yonkers and working odd jobs to get back on his feet.  He does hope to go back to the island.

On Tuesday, more than 160 utility workers from New York arrived in Puerto Rico to help the island restore its power grid. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says 220 more workers will be sent to the island later this week.

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