Local Puerto Ricans watch from afar as Maria makes landfall

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By: Tiffany Lewis | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Former FSU student and Puerto Rico resident Marcos Marchan is preparing for the wrath of Hurricane Maria just a week after Irma hit his home.

"When Irma came not too long ago, we were lucky that it sort of passed by as a what felt like a Category 1," Marchan said. "The governor made it very clear that it's a serious storm, that it's probably the strongest storm that's going to come to Puerto Rico, so we're all, we're ready for it."

Local travel agencies are also busy making last minute changes due to the back-to-back storms.

Tricia Illers of the Travel Leaders agency says that it has been busier than usual for this time of year.

"Last week we were very busy either rebooking or refunding or cancelling people's trips because of Hurricane Irma," Illers said. "One of our agents had people in San Juan this week and they wanted to get out ahead of Maria arriving in San Juan."

While Tallahassee residents are safe from Maria's path, some are worried about their loved ones back home.

"Well my first reaction, I was really nervous, because they just got hit with Hurricane Irma and I've got a lot of family over there, my grandparents especially," said FAMU student Abdiel Arce.

Many, not just concerned for the storm, but also the long term effects.

"I know that the government said that there's a chance that the island could lose power for a month to maybe three months," Marchan said. "Many people have already been out buying generators because this could impact us for awhile."

Maria is expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday morning. This is their second Category 5 hurricane in less than two weeks.

By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hurricane Maria is moving across the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and people have been lining up for plywood to board up homes, piling up sand bags, and stocking up on water and gas which are already limited.

Here in the Big Bend region, many people are watching Maria closely.

Two FAMU students from Puerto Rico are watching from afar as their families deal with another disaster, just one week after Irma.

JoMarie Santiago and Abdiel Arce were both born in Puerto Rico but have lived in Florida for most of their lives. They’ve kept up with their families via social media after the storm, but they said they feel helpless being so far away.

"I can't do anything about it. I’m hoping that nothing crazy goes wrong, but I just want them to be okay," Santiago said.

Her family didn’t have with much damage from Irma, but Abdiel’s family wasn’t as lucky. His family has been out of water, and their power isn’t expected to be restored for three to six months. With Maria making landfall, he’s sure the restoration will be much longer now.

"I just feel really sad that I can’t do anything and it really bothers me. I have a lot of family, especially my aunts who live in the mountain area. Right now we can barely get connection trying to talk to them in general because the phone service is not that great," Arce said.

JoMarie and Abdiel are in a relationship, and are both leaning on each other for support during this time.

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