Irma pushes Florida's poor closer to the edge of ruin


Larry and Elida Dimas didn’t have much to begin with, and Hurricane Irma left them with even less.

The storm peeled open the roof of the old mobile home where they live with their 18-year-old twins, and it destroyed another one they rented to migrant workers in Immokalee, one of Florida’s poorest communities. Someone from the government already has promised aid, but Dimas’ chin quivers at the thought of accepting it.

“I don’t want the help,” said Dimas, 55. “But I need it.”

Dimas is one of millions of Floridians who live in poverty, and an untold number of them have seen their lives up-ended by Irma. Their options, already limited, were narrowed even further when the hurricane destroyed possessions, increased expenses and knocked them out of work.

Not far from Dimas in impoverished Immokalee, located on the edge of the Everglades, Haitian immigrant Woodchy Darius, a junior at Immokalee High School, must decide whether to return to class when school reopens or head to the fields to pick berries once the land is dry enough to work again.

“The rent is $375, and if I don’t have the money they’ll kick us out,” said Darius, 17. He lives in a grubby apartment building with bare concrete floors, burglar-proof doors and cinder-block walls that make it resemble a jail more than home.

The Census Bureau estimates about 3.3 million people live in poverty in Florida — nearly 16 percent of the state’s 20.6 million population. For them, the…



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