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Palm Beach County Cares prepares for influx of evacuees after Hurricane Maria

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"Palm Beach County Cares" prepares for influx of evacuees after Hurricane Maria. (WPEC)

Palm Beach County Cares, a group of county leaders, businesses and non-profit organization, held a press conference at the Port of Palm Beach Wednesday afternoon to discuss its countywide relief to help Puerto Rican evacuees coming into the county.

They are preparing for an influx of evacuees from the island, looking for a second chance here in our own backyard.

More than a hundred students affected by Hurricane Maria have trickled into the Palm Beach County School system.

Margarita Pinkos with the Palm Beach County School said the district has already enrolled 126 students who were devastated by this year’s hurricane season.

More than half of that are from Puerto Rico, and they already have a plan in place.

“We’re going to provide them the services. All of the other kids will be very happy to learn from them, and to share what they know from them,” said Pinkos.

Juan Pagan, President of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce expects around 100,000 Puerto Rican evacuees to come to Palm Beach County.

“Eagle Academy in Wellington converted their gym into a shelter to house families and kids for this event,” said Pagan.

The group is trying to raise $5 million in five weeks to help evacuees get back on track.

Meanwhile, the Port of Palm Beach has donated more than 10,000 square feet of warehouse space to house donations for families, like clothes and supplies.

These life-saving items and monetary donations will also go for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We are talking to people who are out there, living there on the island, telling us what they need most like batteries and flashlights and things like that,” said Katherine Waldron, Port of Palm Beach Commissioner.

The Palm Beach County School system, along with Keiser University, FAU, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College and Palm Beach Day Academy are working with the group to provide volunteers and collection sites.

For information, donations and volunteering, visit www.palmbeachcountycares.com.

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