Tampa Bay residents worry about friends and family in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria approaches

Tampa Puerto Ricans closely watch Hurricane Maria
Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 19, 2017

A little over a week after Hurricane Irma threatened Puerto Rico and other islands, yet again, people around Tampa are concerned about their family living on the island as Hurricane Maria, another powerful storm, threatens to become the worst to hit in generations.

Nilsa Henry owns Nilsa’s Puerto Rican Bistro in Tampa and worries about her sister who lives on the island.

“I'll be praying for her,” she said, “she’ll be fine.”

Hurricane Maria re-intensified to a Category 5 storm on Tuesday morning, making its way toward Puerto Rico.

People around the island crowded stores to try to get their hands on whatever was left from Hurricane Irma.

Crews continued to clean up debris left from the previous storm that spared the island from its destructive winds that ripped through other areas like St. Maarten and Barbuda.

Now, Henry hopes Maria will do the same.

“Puerto Rico is a small island and they’re united I think,” she said, “and they’ll help each other so we'll get through it.”

Ray Diaz moved to Puerto Rico from St. Pete and plans to ride out the storm from his home.

“The good thing about here is that all houses, most houses here are concrete,” he said, “so you just hunker down and you wait for it to pass and the worst part is the aftermath.”

He remembers the aftermath left behind by powerful storms Hurricane Hugo and Georges in the 1990’s.

Now, he’s stocked up on camping gear and collecting rain water in large barrels, prepared to lose water and electricity for possibly months.

“Everybody worries but we're ready,” he said, “we’ve been through this many, many times.”