Thousands of evacuees of hurricane-battered Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix arrived in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday aboard Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas cruise ship.
The ship arrived at Port Everglades at maximum capacity of about 3,800 passengers after delivering relief supplies and picking up the evacuees in the Caribbean following hurricanes Maria and Irma.
The ship, which normally sails out of San Juan, carried 1,791 evacuees from Puerto Rico, 864 from St. Croix and St. John, and 681 from St. Thomas.
After days without power, running water, or much else, families who made their way to South Florida were anxious to be reunited with family members.
"We're waiting for our family... It's put a burden on us, not knowing what to do with them," said Migdalia Agosto, whose son was on the ship.
"There's no power, there's no water, there's no food. We had to leave, and I love that island. I'm so sad," said Ingrid Fernandez, who evacuated Puerto Rico.
Most of the evacuees have a place to go but about 40 families without a destination will be brought to the Broward County Convention Center, where the county and Red Cross will help arrange hotel accommodations.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has opened three disaster relief centers Tuesday to assist displaced families, at Miami International Airport, Port Miami and Orlando International Airport.
"They've given me enough information, they've also given me a time and a date to come back with more information on how I could have a job, how I could bring my benefits that I had in Puerto Rico over here," said Yara Ramos, who was at the Orlando airport Tuesday. "I think they've done a really good job, I feel I'm calm. I'm more calm than I was when I got to here."
A representative for the City of Orlando said housing is the biggest issue, and the city is working with apartment buildings and local partners to find places for families to live.
"People are arriving, they don't know where to go, they don't know what to do," said Ana Cruz, coordinator with the Hispanic Office for Local Assistance. "We don't have Section 8 available, we don't have low income apartments available, the waiting lists are long. I mean, so we're just trying to see what we can do."
Meanwhile, a Spirit Airlines relief flight will be arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Tuesday evening with 200 Puerto Ricans.
The airline has been operating relief flights to areas impacted by the hurricanes, delivering about 90,000 pounds of relief supplies and transporting nearly 3,000 passengers.