Listen Live
WERE AM Mobile App 2020


News Talk Cleveland Featured Video
Water is a primary issue and concern for many dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

Source: The Washington Post / Getty

CLEVELAND — A new beginning in Cleveland for hundreds of people is off to a very rocky start.

They may have survived a natural disaster, but a man-made one is starting to take its toll.

That’s the message from the Hispanic social service agency trying to help Hurricane Maria victims.

Large numbers of Puerto Ricans are still moving here nearly 18 months after the destructive storm made landfall.

Since the beginning of this year, 200 more have arrived.

And now there’s growing concern the support they need is coming up short.

“They’re not going anywhere else. They’re coming here to the Spanish American Committee,” said Executive Director Ramonita Vargas.

Cleveland’s longest running Latino social service agency is struggling.

“We’re in a bad situation right now,” said Vargas. “The resources are running out.”

Vargas told News 5 that she’s not only upset with a lack of financial support, but also other agencies in town that initially pledged to aid.

“I’m really frustrated that there’s not enough help in our community. We’re wondering what we are going to do to help these people,” said Vargas.

According to Vargas, many of the social service agencies couldn’t meet the needs of the community.

The main reason is the lack of a Spanish speaking staff.

“The process is kind of difficult for them because they want to be able to talk in their language and share whatever they are going through,” said a caseworker at the Spanish American Committee.

The social worker, who didn’t want her identity revealed because of confidentially concerns, said people she sends to other agencies always come back.

The storm survivors often lack the coping skills needed to start their new life successfully.

“We still have a long way to go when it comes to how we address these situations with clients and how we treat them in the whole process,” said the caseworker.

In a move to beef up its staff to help storm survivors find mental health services, housing, and employment, the Spanish American Committee applied for a $450,000 grant through Cuyahoga County’s Jobs and Family Services.

“There’s not enough resources available for the Latino community. We just found out two days ago that we’re not getting this funding,” said Vargas.



Article Courtesy of WEWS News 5 Cleveland

First and Second Picture Courtesy of The Washington Post and Getty Images

LOCAL NEWS: Cleveland Social Service Agency Struggles to Help Hurricane Maria Survivors  was originally published on