[00:00.00]Lourdes Rodriguez left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria filled her home in the town of Vega Baja with mud.
[00:10.97]The mud damaged mattresses and other things in the house.
[00:16.45]She thought she would stay with her daughter in Florida for a short time.
[00:21.71]But three weeks later, there is still no electricity or water back home.
[00:28.66]The 59-year-old retiree said in an interview at her daughter’s home in Tampa that she does not plan to return soon.
[00:40.88]“It’s been crazy, totally unexpected, like nothing I’ve experienced before,” she said.
[00:48.95]In Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, Efrain Diaz Figueroa listened to a battery-powered radio while he sat in his destroyed home.
[01:01.07]Its walls have collapsed and his clothes and mattresses are wet from the rain.
[01:08.18]His sister was coming to take the 70-year-old to Boston with her family.
[01:14.96]“I’ll live better there,” Figueroa said.
[01:19.33]Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans left for the U.S. mainland to escape the aftermath of the storm.
[01:29.36]Things are still bad on the island — about 85 percent of residents still do not have electricity and 40 percent do not have running water.
[01:43.06]It will take months to restore them, so many Puerto Ricans are trying to rebuild their lives away from the island.
[01:52.86]People are living with relatives in states with large Puerto Rican populations, such as New York, Illinois, Florida and Connecticut.
[02:05.23]They are searching for jobs, schools for their children and housing.
[02:11.29]“I am in limbo right now,” said Betzaida Ferrer.
[02:17.09]She is a 74-year-old retiree who moved from Miami to Puerto Rico in July.
[02:24.48]Now she is back in Miami and living with friends.
[02:29.74]She is trying to find a job that will pay for her $1,300 monthly rent. That is double what she paid in Puerto Rico.
[02:42.66]“To be in a situation like this where you need help is horrible,” Ferrer said.
[02:48.23]Now, she is taking a three-hour a day job training program.
[02:53.81]Over the years many Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland U.S.
[03:00.13]Since 2007, the island’s population decreased by about 10 percent because of a shrinking economy that continues to make life difficult.
[03:12.42]Then, Hurricane Maria struck on September 20 killing at least 45 people, according to the Puerto Rican government.
[03:23.04]That has caused even more people to leave.
[03:26.58]Jorge Duany, a professor of anthropology at Florida International University, has studied migration from the island.
[03:38.50]He said many people may not come back.
[03:42.06]Many of those who left are elderly or sick people.
[03:47.80]They fled, or were forced to leave, because of the danger of being without electricity or air conditioning in a hot climate.
[04:00.35]The trip has been tiring for people like Madeline Maldonado.
[04:07.33]She stayed in a hotel in New York with her two granddaughters, ages 9 and 13, before going to a friend’s house in Washington.
[04:19.94]“I need to get back to my homeland,” she said, although it is not clear when that may be possible.
[04:28.08]Puerto Ricans are used to bad weather and other difficulties.
[04:33.72]But the storm’s damage has been too much for some residents.
[04:38.29]Carmelo Rivera is a 78-year-old from the central town of Caguas.
[04:45.92]She is staying with relatives in Long Island, New York.
[04:51.15]Rivera compared the storm to Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane George in 1998.
[05:01.74]“Nothing has been as hard as Maria,” he said.
[05:06.12]No one knows how many Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland U.S., but officials in Florida say 20,000 have arrived in their state since October 3.
[05:22.88]Florida already had nearly one million Puerto Rican residents before the storm.
[05:31.29]New York had over one million.
[05:33.86]Government agencies are trying to help the Puerto Ricans deal with the situation.
[05:41.41]Law schools, including Florida A&M and the University of Connecticut, have agreed to accept students from Puerto Rico.
[05:52.93]Miami-Dade County Public Schools have offered to partly use the curriculum and change bus routes to help newly arrived children.
[06:05.32]Florida Governor Rick Scott has said teachers from Puerto Rico will not have to pay for certificates to work in the state.
[06:16.24]He also eased financial requirements for some professional jobs, such as real estate agents and barbers.
[06:26.33]Lourdes Rodriguez said her family may need to sell their house in Puerto Rico to get enough money to create a new life in the United States.
[06:38.47]They do not want to, but now she, her husband, a daughter and two grandchildren are living in a small two-bedroom rented apartment.
[06:52.14]Rodriguez said her family had considered moving to the mainland U.S. before.
[06:58.63]But they never imagined it would be because of such a difficult situation.
[07:05.98]I’m Susan Shand.