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Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico hits hard for staff at Big Cedar Lodge

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BRANSON MO NEWS: RIDGEDALE, Mo. When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico last month, it hit especially hard at one Ozarks tourist attraction. Folks from Big Cedar Lodge went to Puerto Rico this Spring to recruit people for a lot of their open staff positions. Right now, they have about 75 employees from the island.

While they work in the serene beauty of the Ozarks, staff at Big Cedar Lodge can’t help but worry about the chaos and destruction in Puerto Rico.
“It was really, really stressful, being here while my family was back over there. So I’m physically here, but my heart’s still over there in Puerto Rico,” says Rose Mary Toro.
Toro didn’t hear from her father and brothers for three weeks after the hurricane. “My dad and my brothers are ok; they still don’t have electricity or water,” Toro says.
She and her huband came to the Branson area six months ago, bringing their 6 year old son a month later. “I got the opportunity, and I’m here now,” says Toro, who was unemployed and looking for work while in Puerto Rico.
“Like many of the employers in the area, the changes to government regulations for international staff really impacted us,” says Bryson Allen, Human Resources Director at Big Cedar Lodge.

Big Cedar Lodge was pleased to recruit 50 people on its first visit to Puerto Rico. They’re working in positions such as cooks and housekeepers, that the resort struggles to fill locally. Allen says, “They bring a lot of energy and passion and enthusiasm to the work that they do every day. Very grateful, I think, for the opportunity to be here, and they’ve just become a really important part of our culture, almost overnight,” says Allen.
“I decided just to take the chance and come over here to Branson, Missouri, which has …



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