New England Residents Worry About ‘Terrified' Relatives in Puerto Rico

As Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm, residents in New England spent the day worrying about their relatives on the island.

"It’s heartbreaking, there’s flooding everywhere, the branches and trees falling all over the place, debris everywhere, houses falling apart, it’s very sad," said Cynthia Velez of Providence.

Velez huddled with Mariangeli Vargas, of New Bedford, much of the day waiting for sporadic texts, brief phone calls, and short videos from their loved ones sheltering in their homes on the island.

"I can hear my aunts on the phone, they were terrified," said Vargas.

She said her sister was nearly swept away trying to replace the boards on her home.

"The wind just took her in the air and thank God that she was able to grab onto a tree and save her life, and if it wasn’t for that, who knows what would have happened," Vargas said.

Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, 27 members of Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 are preparing for deployment to Puerto Rico to assist the six team members already on the island with FEMA’s mission following Hurricane Maria.

"We’ll probably be doing searches, looking for residences, checking to make sure people are either there or accounted for," Anita Arnum, Asst. Program Manager for MA-TK1.

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