It’s an experience Erica said she’ll never forget – waking up in the middle of the night to evacuate her 32-year-old son Elliot, who has Down Syndrome, as Hurricane Maria ravaged their home in Puerto Rico.
“He was horrified,” Erica said of Elliot as she and her husband, Ruben, walked their son through knee-deep water to seek shelter at a nearby school.
“Our roof was leaking in the middle of the night, and when we arrived at the school, people were crying,” Erica said.
Erica, a special education teacher for 11 years, and Ruben, a history teacher for 35 years, had to leave Puerto Rico in the aftermath. They headed to Tampa and lived with Erica’s sister for two weeks as they waited to receive FEMA relief. When relief arrived, the family moved into a hotel in Altamonte Springs to be near their son, Eric, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Winter Park. After the family ran out of FEMA relief, they returned to Puerto Rico to see what they could salvage from their rental home. Erica said they lost everything, and their landlord refused to repair the home. So the family packed up what little personal belongings they had left and headed back to Florida to move in with Eric.
“He has four kids, so we were nine people in a one-bedroom apartment,” Erica said. “All of these changes made our son Elliot act up.”
After a month of sleeping on the floor in Eric’s apartment, the family was able to save money to secure low-income housing in Orlando and start over.
Erica said she met a woman at a laundromat who told her to seek help from The Mustard Seed for home furnishings.
“We came to Florida with only luggage,” Erica said. “So this is a blessing. We haven’t slept in a bed for three months. We’re just so happy to have a roof over our heads because when you have nothing, and are sleeping on the floor, at least you have a roof over your head.”
April 29, 2020
The Mustard Seed of Central Florida is proud to partner with Safr, a new ridesharing service dedicated to the safety and empowerment of women. The company will be providing free rides to The Mustard Seed’s program participants and its affiliate network from Monday, May 4, through Sunday, May 31, to … read more
April 15, 2020
During this critical time, The Mustard Seed hopes to get back to being fully operational so we can assist more people in need. We have set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $5,000. Your donation, of any amount, will go a long way in assisting people who have nothing and are eating and sleepi… read more