Kissimmee office helping Puerto Ricans halts donations due to rat infestation

By Paula Machado, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 07, 2018, 10:35 PM EST

Donations meant to help displaced Puerto Rican families as well as families still on the island are currently on hold at the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Office in Kissimmee — all because of a rat infestation.

  • Office forced to half donations because of rats
  • Rats got into boxes full of donations, says exec. director
  • Office will continue to donate items once boxes declared safe

About 50 to 70 boxes are inside the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Office in Kissimmee, filled with food, clothes and water.

“They were basically working with nonprofits throughout Florida, and even some churches that were sending these commodities to Puerto Rico,” said Carlos Mercader, the executive director of the office in Washington, D.C.

But then they discovered rats got into about 5-7 boxes, eating some of the contents inside, forcing them to close their office.

“That’s why we stopped giving out those donations,” Mercader said. “The reality is we are assessing the area.”

Mercader said the office was used as storage and that it was never in their budget to handle shipping these donations out.

“Shipping is not what we’re for here right, so we were working with those organizations that were doing that,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, exterminators stopped by to see if they could find where these rats got in. The building had been treated before for the same problem months ago.

Mercader confirmed that they are relocating to a space in Orlando. Once they can declare the boxes are safe, they will continue to donate items to displaced families here or work with organizations shipping to the island.