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SUNY And CUNY Students Help Puerto Rico Rebuild

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Governor Cuomo says around 500 SUNY and CUNY students are in Puerto Rico to help the island rebuild, ten months after devastating hurricanes.

He says there were over three thousand applicants for those 500 spots, so the state will look at ways to accommodate many more students.

"We want to increase the number of students who are coming to help.  Everyone says they have been a great success." he said during a news conference this morning in San Juan.

One of those students helping rebuild Puerto Rico is Lisa Marcellus from the University at Buffalo.

Her mother Julie is from Pittsford.

She says her daughter is helping scrape tar off roofs, and haul plywood planks to rebuild those roofs, among other things.

"She thought at the orientation that the footage they had showed her was from a year ago.  It's like no.  This is still real.  It's still bad there," she said.

Marcellus says it's also scary to think that hurricane season is underway, and many people live in homes where their roof is only a tarp.

But she says her daughter is working with disaster relief organizations that have plenty of experience doing construction work, and they are training and guiding the students well and will look out for them.

She says in addition to college credit, her daughter gets a lot more from this trip to Puerto Rico.

"It really fits in well with her whole learning experience and what she wants to do in life.  So I'm really proud of her for going," she said.