MARIA: Orlando Job fair holds promise for thousands of Puerto Ricans

By David Bodden, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 09, 2017, 12:42 PM EST

As thousands of Puerto Ricans make their way to the mainland, many are settling in the Orlando area, and for those looking for work, a job fair is scheduled for Monday morning.

  • Puerto Ricans displaced by Maria flock to Florida
  • Many hope to start a new life
  • Job fair at Orange County Convention Center on Monday

A hospitality job fair will get underway at 11 a.m. at the Orange County Convention Center's North Concourse at 9400 Universal Blvd.

The effort is to fill hundreds of jobs at Central Florida hotels and resorts and to help those coming to Orlando, who are desperate to get their lives back on track.

Many have fled the island since Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico. Along with billions in destruction, the storm left many without essential resources. Therefore, families have picked up and moved to Florida.

Now settling in the Orlando area, they have to start over from scratch — finding a job, schools for their children and of course a place to live.

“I have been searching online nonstop (for homes, but they) are significantly high. A house in Puerto Rico for three bedrooms is $600 (a month). So, when you come here and you see that the cheapest two-bedroom house is $1,000 or more... it impacts you, and you feel overwhelmed,” said Alexandra Ayala, an evacuee.

This job fair will run until 2 p.m. There are a number of hotels and resort properties looking for people. There is free parking and even child care for those who attend.

“Everyone lives changed. People are asking for help, not because we want everything to be provided, no. Most of the people, we were working. We were OK we had cars, we were thriving in Puerto Rico and then everyone lost their jobs. So, it's hard,” Ayala said.