After Maria, Reading preparing for influx of Puerto Ricans

Mayor: 'You could be talking hundreds of people'

READING, Pa. - With such a large Puerto Rican population in Reading, the news of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria is hitting home.

"We're getting a lot of people coming that are asking to get the city involved with collecting water, clothing and stuff that people may need in Puerto Rico," said Reading Mayor Wally Scott.

But on top of collecting goods, Reading officials said the city needs to prepare for a potential influx of Puerto Ricans coming here to live with their families.

"You could be talking hundreds of people that would be coming here to the city of Reading," Scott told 69 News.

Scott said he hopes the city would get federal funding to help with the transition

"Housing is going to be our main concern, and making life comfortable and be prepared to help people," he said.

City Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz said much of the responsibility will probably fall on individual families.

"And I know our families are very generous, but we have to know as more people come in, the families themselves might need support," Goodman-Hinnershitz said.

Schooling for children might also be a consideration.

"I think that the school district, if they're smart, they're preparing for it now, too, in case it does happen, and you can always get teachers that you can hire on a temporary basis," said Scott.

"We just want to make sure that people feel welcome when they come in the city," said Goodman-Hinnershitz.

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