Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres announced today that more than 2,000 people impacted by hurricane destruction in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been helped by eight One-Stop-Shop: Traveling Resource and Information Fairs across the commonwealth.
The fairs over the past six weeks provided information about valuable community resources available to evacuees after the devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
“When an emergency strikes, we must unite in solidarity and support. Assisting our fellow Americans is a Pennsylvania tradition,” Governor Wolf said. “We will continue providing our support to those there and to those arriving in our state. I thank countless public and private entities lending a hand to those in need.”
Seventeen state agencies partnered with local and county governments, and over 100 community organizations, to bring information to cities where the highest concentration of evacuees is settling.
More than 800 hours of service were provided to 2,000 new Pennsylvanians at fairs in Allentown, Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Philadelphia, Reading, and York. Reading had the largest turnout with nearly 400 people in attendance.
“It is wonderful to see so many individuals and organizations come together to provide much-needed resources and support to those displaced by the devastating effects of last year’s hurricanes,” First Lady Frances Wolf said at the fair that was held in York on February 12. “Compassion is in the fabric of our state and assisting our fellow Americans is a Pennsylvania tradition. We are proud to welcome our neighbors from Puerto Rico and help in any way we can.”
The participating state agencies were:
- The Departments of Aging, Community & Economic Development, Corrections, Education, Health, Human Services, Insurance, Labor & Industry, State, and Transportation
- Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs
- Offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, First Lady and Attorney General
- PA Housing Finance Agency
- Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
“It is heartening to witness the great partnership between government staff at the local, county, state and federal level to help individuals and families recover from such terrible devastation,” said Acting Secretary of State Robert Torres. “It is a great model of government that works.”
Also, in attendance were officials and staff from the mayors’ offices in each city, county commissioners, city council members, senators, representatives and congressmen.
Agencies and organizations provided information on employment opportunities, immunizations, voter registration, professional licensing, health screenings, disaster relief, housing, education (primary, secondary, and higher education), birth certificates (from Puerto Rico), banking, food and clothing, driver’s licenses, among other local integration resources and information.
“Making the move from Puerto Rico to the mainland was not a decision these families took lightly, and we need to be ready to assist them in any way possible as they make their new home in our communities,” said PEMA Director Richard D. Flinn Jr. “This is a significant influx of new people to Pennsylvania, and we, along with our local, state and federal partners, will continue to make the transition as seamless as possible for them.”
In the next few weeks, all participating organizations will convene in Harrisburg to evaluate the major takeaways from the series of fairs. They also hope to develop an emergency plan and model to be used for any similar future initiative.
MEDIA CONTACT: Wanda Murren, 717-783-1621