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Round 2: Hurricane Maria expected to hit Puerto Rico, Caribbean region this week

Posted September 19

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Here are four words no one in Puerto Rico wants to hear just days after Hurricane Irma: Round two is coming.

But the data's clear. A second hurricane — this one named Maria — is expected to hit the U.S. territory and other weather-fatigued regions of the Caribbean later this week.

No one’s relishing the return of catastrophic winds and deluge-causing rain. But most Puerto Rico residents who spoke to us on Sunday say they’re taking the unwelcome news of Hurricane Maria in stride.

Jillayne Tomkins is an Arkansas transplant who has called San Juan home for three years. She’s witnessed a few tropical depressions, “but this is the first time we’ve really had any hurricane threat — and getting two big ones in a relatively close timespan is kind of worrisome.”

But Tomkins isn’t panicking. Her home held firm during Irma. And she’s well-stocked on provisions that she and her family would need if the power or water are out for extended periods.

“I feel a lot of peace,” she added. “I don’t feel anxious (about Maria). I know things will probably be ruined, but I know my family is going to be OK. We’re taking precautions.”

Puerto Rican civil authorities were also prepping Sunday for the hurricane. Some 450 shelters have been set up across the territory, with capacity for more than 67,000 people. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello also announced schools would be closed Monday and government workers would only work until noon so they would have time to prepare themselves for the hurricane’s passage.

A local government release acknowledged that enduring two hurricanes in as many weeks would put pressure on Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

“The government is in constant communication with the White House and federal agencies since before the passage of Hurricane Irma last week,” said Carlos Mercader, the governor’s representative in Washington, D.C.

Puerto Rico serves as an emergency management hub for the Caribbean region.

San Juan native Wilfred Rosa made a run to the grocery store late Saturday to restock his Irma-depleted cache of canned goods, crackers and, of course, drinking water.

The shelves were emptying fast.

“I had to buy the fancy Fiji-brand water — I didn’t want to, but everything else was sold out.”

jswensen@deseretnews.com

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