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Man with ties to Racine riding out Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico

Posted at 6:37 PM, Sep 06, 2017

For JC Marquez, Puerto Rico has always been home. He moved away to attend the University of Dubuque in Iowa and spent some time in Racine after graduating.

But in 2015, he moved back to Puerto Rico. However, things are much different now with Hurricane Irma bearing down on the island he calls home.

"This morning it was eerie," Marquez said. "It was super calm this morning. There wasn't even a breeze outside. It was that feeling, things might get crazy this afternoon."

The calm before the storm wore off and the high winds of Irma started to pound his area outside of San Juan.

"I have a couple palm trees in the front and they're bending in all directions," Marquez said. "It's a little frightening. I have my family with me in the house, trying to keep calm. Power went out 30 minutes ago (2:30 p.m. CST). We heard three or four explosions from nearby transformers. We still have running water. That's most important for us right now."

With the pain of Hurricane Harvey still fresh in everyone's minds, Marquez is concerned about the power of this hurricane for a multitude of reasons. For starters, Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 while Irma is a Category 5 hurricane. Also, Marquez is concerned about Puerto Rico's infrastructure as compared to the Houston area.

"The devastation [Houston] received from a Category 4 hurricane in Harvey, it's a true eye opener," Marquez said. "I have been telling people, don't leave your house if you don't need to. Here in Puerto Rico, our sewer systems and stuff are not in the best shape. Roads here flood naturally when it rains. The amount of rainfall with this hurricane, Puerto Rico might not be the same tomorrow when this is all said and done."

Marquez is holing up with some of his cousins and a combined eight dogs they're caring for. Because of that, leaving the island was not a feasible option.

"It's been talked about," Marquez said. "[But] as common sense as that sounds, it's not realistic. Financially, to be able to afford all those plane tickets off the island, plus the animals. They can't feed themselves or fend for themselves."

So with nothing to do but batten down the hatches, Marquez and his family are riding out the second strongest Atlantic hurricane on record. Brave, yes, but he's only human.

"I'm pretty nervous because this is out of our control. Out of my control," Marquez said. "I'm at the mercy of this hurricane. I feel quite small and powerless."