FEATURE-Plane by plane, New York greets Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricane
By Jonathan Allen-NEW YORK, Oct 21 (Reuters) – There were only a few minutes left before baggage carousel No. 4 jolted to life at John F. Kennedy International Airport, soon to be ringed with people coming from Puerto Rico on one-way tickets they never would have bought if not for the hurricane.
Moving at a canter, Emily Pagan and three colleagues from various New York state government agencies carted their fold-up table halfway down the Terminal 5 arrivals hall, setting it up by the carousel against a pillar.
They had volunteered to help orient the latest batch of the tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans that New York officials estimate will flee from the lingering devastation wrought a month ago by Hurricane Maria.
Many are expected to stay for months – or years – and some forever, in a largely reluctant wave of migration abetted by the spare mattresses and couches of the one million Puerto Ricans who already call the New York area home.
“A lot of them are saying they came to start a new life here because they lost everything,” Pagan said on her third day of greeting arrivals from the U.S. territory, where the power grid and water supply remain in disarray.