FEMA to relocate about 3,000 Maria survivors to US mainland

National Guard personnel evacuate Toa Ville resident Luis Alberto Martinez after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide passenger flights to relocate about 3,000 Puerto Ricans still sleeping in emergency shelters to temporary housing on the U.S. mainland.

FEMA spokesman Ron Roth said FEMA is providing the priority transportation assistance at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

Thousands of the island territory’s U.S. citizens are still homeless more than seven weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. There is also a dire shortage of available temporary housing, such as apartments or hotel rooms.

Roth said FEMA is working to establish agreements with both Florida and New York to accept the relocated survivors. More than 140,000 Puerto Ricans have left since the storm hit Sept. 20. Some experts estimate more than 300,000 more could leave in the next two years.

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