Former Racine man living in Puerto Rico braces for second hurricane

Posted at 6:47 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 19:51:55-04

As the Caribbean tries to recover from Hurricane Irma, they're preparing for another super storm in Hurricane Maria. 

For a former Racine man living just outside of San Juan, it's a bad case of déjà vu for him. 

"Irma was crazy as far as preparation," JC Marquez said. "This time, it's ten fold. Super intense."

TODAY'S TMJ4 spoke to Marquez during Hurricane Irma. He says the island was not hit too hard by the storm, but a million people lost power. In the last two weeks, they've slowly started to recover, but this storm comes at a bad time. 

"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't a little bit nervous about what's coming," Marquez said. "I have neighbors who didn't board up their houses for Irma but this time, they're boarding up every window and every door. It's a whole different scenario."

Marquez says the island he calls home has been pretty lucky over the years. The largest hurricanes usually skirt by or lose steam before hitting the island. The last time a hurricane of this magnitude hit the island, not his parents or even his grandparents were alive.

Puerto Rico was hit by a large hurricane in the 1920s, causing massive damage. So while no one has any experience with a powerful hurricane like this, he's hoping everyone will still be ready. 

"It's a learning experience for everyone on the island," Marquez said. "Because literally there is nobody alive on the island that experienced that hurricane."

While Wisconsin likely won't feel a single drop of rain from the storm, it's impact is being felt locally.

A Milwaukee man is in Puerto Rico on an anniversary vacation with his girlfriend for a trip they planned long before Maria was ever a storm. 

"We tried booking an earlier flight but all flights were booked out and the airport was going to close early today," Luis Millan of Milwaukee said. "It's not too much we have control over."

Control is something that's hard for others in Milwaukee with Puerto Rico ties. For Nani Correa, she feels helpless, especially after Hurricane Irma just passed by the island.

"There is not enough time between for them to recover," Correa said. What they already went through, and to prepare for something similar but even worse."

She's not the only one. Her department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee all feel the same way. However, they know their negative feelings won't help those going through the hurricane. 

"There is definitely a lot of anxiety," Alberto Maldonado, Interim Director of the Roberto Hernandez Center at UWM said. "But all we can do is stay positive. Stay positive for relatives down there and encourage them to seek the needed shelter and really come together."

A positive vibe Marquez can feel all those miles away. 

"We are lucky because we haven't been hit really hard by these storms," Marquez said. "This will be the first real contact so far. It's our turn to kind of band together and fight through what's to come."