ORLANDO, Fla. – Ten-year-old Anthony Valencia says that after Hurricane Maria destroyed his home in Puerto Rico he played video games for weeks until he was sick of them. Now his smile stretches wide when he talks of going back to school — on the U.S. mainland.
The boy's family fled the blacked-out, storm-damaged island last month to Florida, where he's been welcomed into Orlando's Riverdale Elementary School. An estimated 140,000 Puerto Ricans have fled to the U.S. mainland, many to Florida.
On Tuesday, Anthony was present at a school assembly where he received free school supplies from a foundation.
Like schools elsewhere in the U.S., Riverdale Elementary has opened its doors — to 27 students from Puerto Rico. The surrounding school district has absorbed 1,888 Puerto Rican students overall.