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SUNY and CUNY students helping Puerto Rico rebuild

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New York State Governor's Office
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says around 500 SUNY and CUNY students are in Puerto Rico to help the island rebuild, 10 months after devastating hurricanes. One of those students is Lisa Marcellus from the University at Buffalo.

Marcellus' mother Julie 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 her daughter is working with disaster relief organizations that have plenty of experience doing construction work, and Marcellus says 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," she said. "So I'm really proud of her for going."

Cuomo said there were over 3,000 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," said the governor during a news conference in San Juan. "Everyone says they have been a great success."

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