Puerto Rican family forced to move to KC after Maria destroys their home finds new way to celebrate Three King’s Day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- January 6 means many things to Christians: it is called the Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas. For many in Latin America, it's known as Three King's Day, marking the day the Magi met the infant Jesus in a manager. Children fill shoe boxes with grass, and put them under their beds. In the morning, the grass is gone (the camels ate it) and the magi left gifts behind for the children.

For many Puerto Ricans this year, their tradition changed. Hurricane Maria hit the island in September, and many still struggle with getting a steady supply of electricity, water, and food.

Many Puerto Ricans left the island in the days and weeks after the hurricane. Lorna Flores is one of them; she settled in Kansas City.

On Saturday, while they play and speak spanish, Lorna Flores and her twin boys are celebrating their culture. "It's really important in Puerto Rico," she explained.

"It's very humble, but it's all about the family," she continued. "We get together, we spend all day together."

Plattewoods is much different from Puerto Rico. The life Lorna Flores is piecing together now is much different from it was just four months ago.

"I'm a single mom," she said. "I had my dream job and everything (in Puerto Rico). But after Maria, I was just uncertain."

Her son's school closed, her two-story home was damaged, and her job outlook was tenuous.

She had a few friends in the United States. One offered to let Lorna and her sons move into their ample home. Within a month of landing in Kansas City, Flores had a job using her Spanish language at a non-profit charity.

"If I had to choose to be anywhere else, I would choose to be here," Flores said confidently.

But her heart, along with much of her family, is still on the island. That island was nearly annihilated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2017.

"There's nothing certain for a lot of people in Puerto Rico right now," Flores said, "and it's really sad that people just forgot about them."

Puerto Rico, though roughly the size of Connecticut, has a population of roughly the size of Kansas. And many still struggle, including her extended family. This week, a task force formed to address the varying death toll numbers attributed to Hurricane Maria. The official death toll sits at 64, though other counts put it close to 1,000.