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hurricane maria aftermath

FEMA to start airlifting Puerto Ricans to temporary housing in Florida and New York

With every hotel in Puerto Rico at capacity, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is trying something new: flying displaced Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland, where they will live in temporary housing in New York or Florida.

The island is still reeling from Hurricane Maria, with residents across Puerto Rico living without power and clean water. Through FEMA's Transitional Shelter Assistance program, displaced Puerto Ricans living in shelters will be flown to the mainland, their plane tickets and housing costs covered by FEMA. This is FEMA's first time doing an airlift following a natural disaster — it typically pays for people who can't be in their homes to stay in hotels.

Mike Byrne, a federal coordinating officer at FEMA, told CBS News that out of 300 families who have been offered assistance, 30 have accepted. "People really don't want to leave their homes," he said. Thousands of Puerto Ricans have already left the island on their own, with 100,000 settling in Florida.