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Chicago Center To Welcome Hurricane Maria Evacuees

CHICAGO (CBS) -- One month after Hurricane Maria, the situation is still dire for many Puerto Ricans.

Many are now homeless, living without food or water, and desperate to leave the island. CBS 2's Sandra Torres reports that Chicago's Humboldt Park Field House is preparing to welcome them.

In the heart of the Puerto Rican community, the facility is a place that usually draws in youth. Soon, however, it will become a center to welcome evacuees from the island.

"This is an open spot for Puerto Ricans that come from Puerto Rico," said Orlando Cintron, who is a Humboldt Park resident. Cintron says he's helping families who have already arrived in Chicago begin a new life, as the hurricane changed theirs forever.

"I have seen families come from Puerto Rico -- little kids with no shoes, just a bag over their shoulders, needing help."

As a result, city officials, such as 26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado, are working with other agencies to setup a welcoming center at the field house.

"The way that we envision is that we're going to have a bunch of tables there with people that represent CHA [Chicago Housing Authority], that represent Airbnb, that represent the state of Illinois," Maldonado said.

It's not yet clear when the center will begin it's work, but Maldonado says the sooner the better, as his office has received more than 160 calls from Puerto Ricans wanting to come to Chicago.

Maldonado says his team has already begun training people on how to help evacuees once they arrive. Furthermore, Ald. Maldonado is also working with Chicago Public School officials to make sure children arriving in Chicago are able to transition smoothly into schools here.

They're encouraging Puerto Ricans who need guidance to call 311.

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