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Boston Croatians Offer Shelter During Hurricane Irma Evacuation

Key West

As catastrophic Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, many are concerned about their family and friends in the area.

Governor Rick Scott has asked everyone from the Key West to Orlando to evacuate as Irma is strengthening again to a Category 5 Hurricane, after passing Cuba, and it is imminent it will hit hard the southern Florida and the Keys. As of September 9th at 6:00 am, more than six million people, 25% of the Florida population, and in comparison – 50% more than the population of the entire Croatia, have been asked to evacuate. And at least one of them is Croatian — fortunately she was smart and made the decision to leave early.

Irma heading to Miami, Paula revisits Boston

Paula Klak, from Zagreb, Croatia is currently a student at Barry University, Miami, FL. Paula contacted New England Friends of Croatia, NEFC, www.friendsofcroatia.org, for assistance during this time. This is a not-for-profit and non-political organization focused on assisting Croatians in the area as well as creating awareness about Croatia in New England.

Paula is no stranger to Boston – she is a rower who has been recruited by Barry to join their Crew. In fact, Paula participated numerous times in the Head of the Charles Regatta in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and even in her first year at college, only a few weeks after arriving to the US, she won a gold as part of the coxed four team. Many members of the NEFC came to watch Paula and other Croatian compete in the Regatta, so the organization was happy to assist her as she waits for Irma to pass through her US home state.

Paula Klak

“Earlier this week, there was a lot of questioning among the students at Barry whether the news about Irma is overblown, but watching the weather reports, it was clear to me that this will be a big one,” says Paula Klak, an undergraduate student at Barry University, Miami, FL.

“As a Croatian who grew up in a mild climate, I am not used to the catastrophic storms in the US and I simply didn’t want to chance it. Plus, I love Boston, so while I am training here every day, I will make the time to visit Boston’s sights which I normally don’t get a chance to do when we come up for the Regatta. And, I am thankful to be able to spend time with the Croatian community in Boston.”

NEFC Opens Doors to Croatian Floridians

Boston-based NEFC is celebrating 25th year anniversary this year. It has been formed to assist Croatia during the war in the 90s. In the recent years, the community has focused on showcasing Croatia’s treasures, be they people, the country, or resources, as well as assisting Croatians visiting the area.

“In addition to supporting Croatia on an ongoing basis for various humanitarian efforts, from the floods in northern Croatia to the firefighters in Dalmatia, and collaborating on cultural exchanges, we frequently assist Croatians and friends who come to New England as they settle to this area,” said Mirena Bagur, president of New England Friends of Croatia. “Since the evacuation in Florida is still in the process, we wanted to inform any Croatian-Floridian families, that until they know they can go back to their homes, we would be happy to assist them in finding shelter at our members’ homes in the Boston area.”

To contact NEFC about your evacuation needs, please send email to [email protected] or call 617-835-5019.

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