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Puerto Ricans sought refuge in Florida, now face storm there

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2018, file photo, Jose Santiago, a Puerto Rican evacuee after Hurricane Maria, stands in a temporary home in Orlando. Like Santiago, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans moved to Florida after Hurricane Maria to escape the devastation of the storm. Now, they’re facing a potentially destructive storm in the very place they sought refuge. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. — When Hurricane Dorian was threatening Puerto Rico this week, many of its former residents who moved to Florida after 2017’s Hurricane Maria worried about relatives they left behind.

Now that the island has dodged a direct hit from the storm, and Dorian spins toward Florida, the roles have flipped.

Puerto Ricans in Florida say they’re now getting calls from relatives concerned about their safety in the Sunshine State.

What had been a steady flow of residents moving from the island because of economic hardship became a gush after Hurricane Maria devastated the island’s power grid and left 3,000 residents dead two years ago.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates around 130,000 Puerto Ricans left the island between July 2017 and July 2018. As many as 50,000 Puerto Ricans settled in Florida.

The Associated Press