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Puerto Rican evacuees fill Florida classroom -- and are taught by a fellow evacuee

New life for hurricane victims
Hurricane victims to begin new life 1,000 miles away from home 02:11

ORLANDO -- In Karen Espino's classroom at Lake Nona Middle School, new students are still raw from fleeing storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.    

"These children are not saying, 'Wow, now I have TV.' No, these students are telling you, 'We have now access to food, we feel safe," Espino said. 

In Puerto Rico, less than 20 percent of schools have reopened, and many kids are still studying in the dark. Rebuilding the island is still a distant dream. 

Karen Espino's classroom at Lake Nona Middle School. CBS News

In the Orlando area, there are more than 1,300 new students from Puerto Rico.

Joaris Laureano, 13, arrived two weeks ago, living with her uncle and trying to find her footing.

She said it's been difficult being in a new place, and "difficult being away from her parents and older brother." 

She said all her family wants to come.

Espino knows that pain all too well. She, too, is a hurricane evacuee -- the school where she taught was heavily damaged. 

Joaris Laureano, 13, arrived from Puerto Rico to Orlando. CBS News

Now she's helping fill the increased demand for teachers, and she was recruited right off the plane at a help desk in Orlando's airport set up for displaced families. She's grateful for the job, but worried about the exodus. 

"I am concerned and that is a struggle that I had to deal with as well -- and many might return as well once things are back on track," Espino said. 

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