National News

Monster Maria has Puerto Rico native's family gearing up for the storm

Posted September 20, 2017 12:25 p.m. EDT

— Hurricane Maria is the second potentially destructive storm to plow through the Caribbean this month.

After Irma, Maria is now barreling past Guadeloupe and heading toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The governor in Puerto Rico is warning people that Maria could be the storm of the century.

Channel 3 spoke with a native of Puerto Rico who said her family is gearing up for the storm.

"This one is even more scary because it's going right through the island, right over the island," said Ana Valentin-Jackson, board chair, Puerto Rican Day Parade in Hartford.

Valentin-Jackson said she moved from Puerto Rico to the U.S. in 1989 with her mother and younger sister.

She still has relatives on the island.

"My dad, my grandma, I have uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers-in-law who are down in Puerto Rico," she said. "We just finished going through the scare of Irma, Hurricane Irma, everyone was bracing for their life."

Valentin-Jackson she she spoke with her family on Monday night.

They went through a checklist together to make sure everything was in order ahead of Maria.

"'Do you still have batteries? Do you have food? Did you go to the grocery store? Did you get your medication refilled? Did you get everything you need?'" Valentin-Jackson said. "We are in hurricane season, so you can expect there are heavy rainfalls during this time or you will get a hurricane that will hit you and you will be without power for two weeks."

As the board chair for the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Hartford, Valentin-Jackson said she is working closely with different organizations to figure out ways to help those impacted by the storms.

"We have thousands and thousands of Puerto Ricans here in our community who have family back in Puerto Rico to think about the easiest and fastest way to answer that relief effort," she said.

She's hoping they can send water, toiletries and other personal items.

"In addition to how to get things down there, also how to collect money and how that money goes to the right organization that will help get the people on the island back on their feet," Valentin-Jackson said.

She said so far, the support from the community has been overwhelming.

"It's really touching because we know we're not doing this alone," she said. "Everyone is coming together and it's really, really amazing."