Arc of Alachua County provides group home for displaced disabled woman from Puerto Rico

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)- The storm in September left Amaral and her mother searching for food, water and electricity through the streets of the town of Juncos in Puerto Rico.

Translated from Spanish: "She’s accustomed to some things because of her condition. To not have electricity or water, she would ask ‘what time is it?’, ‘why are there no lights?’. It was dark and she would get really anxious,” Teresita Marcano, Amaral’s aunt, said.

Amaral has Prader-Willi Syndrome and breathes with the help of a sleep apnea machine at night.

Translated: “Everyday, they had to go to the pharmacy, to charge the battery,” Teresita Marcano said.

Because of the storm, a lot of Puerto Rico’s resources were devastated.
Amaral's mother reached out for help in an email. Then the Arc of Alachua County stepped in.

“We knew immediately we needed to reach out and do anything possible or go down swinging to get her evacuated. This is what it’s all about. It’s helping people with developmental disabilities no matter where they are or no matter what they’re confronting,” Mark Swain, Executive Director of the Arc of Alachua County, said.

Now, Amaral is safe and warm in a group home that also provides housing to other people with PWS.

“She will stay here as long as she needs to be here. We put no timeline on this and we’re ready to serve her in the long haul,” Swain said.

Teresita Marcano says the family sees a bright future for Amaral in Gainesville.

Translated:“We want her to be an individual, doing things on her own, learning English, getting a job and other tasks to be independent. “