(CBS) — Hundreds of evacuees from Puerto Rico are getting help in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.
“Welcome to Chicago, are you from Puerto Rico?” asks a receptionist as she greets visitors at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse, which has been transformed into a hurricane relief center.
“The Mayor had us put this place together with Congressman Luis Guiterrez had us get this place up and running,” says Rich Guidice, First Deputy, Office of Emergency Management & Communications.
“As soon as we realized there was a need for us for something to be established in the community, we had this set up. We are here to assist the residents of Puerto Rico get back on their feet,” he says.
A few humanitarian flights arrived in Chicago, but there are also hundreds or residents who voluntarily came here and are staying with relatives.
“There is as a strong Puerto Rican presence in the city of Chicago, primarily in the Humboldt Park area. That’s why we set up this reception center here,” Guidice explains.
Twenty-five agencies are on hand for anything residents may need.
“People are coming in with basic needs like health care, blood pressure checked, prescriptions filled. As soon as they walk in, they sign up within the FEMA program so they can identify quickly and in the system exactly what they need and how we can help them.”
The Salvation Army, Chicago Public Schools, The Greater Chicago Food Depository, The Chicago Department of Health, The Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, Operation Warm and other agencies have tables offering assistance.
“We have dozens of boxes of coats. These people come from a tropical climate and their coming to Chicago so they need clothing to keep them warm.”
In addition to what the city is doing, Gov. Bruce Rauner has applied to make Illinois a host for evacuees, which would make the state eligible for federal reimbursement.
The Hurricane Relief Center is open every Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse.