Youngstown families with Puerto Rico ties nervous as Irma hits island

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A couple Youngstown families with ties to Puerto Rico are on edge as Hurricane Irma is nailing the Caribbean Island.

Irma hit Puerto Rico hard Wednesday night into Thursday, killing multiple people, destroying homes and leaving more than one million people without power.

“They’re expecting 4 to 6 months without electricity in some parts,” said Camille Cardona, a Puerto Rico native who now lives in Youngstown. “That’s hard for anyone to imagine.”

Cardona’s family lives on the northwestern tip of the island. She and her children just got back from visiting family in Puerto Rico.

READ MORE: VALLEY NATIVE DRIVES 17 HOURS THROUGH NIGHT TO ESCAPE IRMA

“We were actually fortunate last night,” she said.

Cardona has been in contact with her family.

“They’re still kind of concerned,” she said. “What they basically say is, ‘We’re just taking it one step at a time right now. It’s just to clean up and driving around to assist others that might need more help.'”

Cardona’s father said they experienced wind gusts of 111 miles per hour. But they were ready for Irma — with water and a stockpile of non-perishables.

“Generators have been in the family,” Cardona said. “We’ve experienced hurricanes before. Once [Hurricane] George hit — which was also a category four — we learned how to be a little bit better prepared.”

Sylvia Arias was born in Youngstown, grew up in Puerto Rico and lives back here now. However, she has grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives and friends still living on the island.

Like Cardona, her Youngstown family closes out the summer with a vacation to Puerto Rico. But her mother and sister were not as fortunate with their timing.

“They’ve been really worried,” Arias said. “My mom and sister went there for vacation and got this news of the hurricane.”

Her family has been without electricity since 3 p.m. Thursday.

“Thank God — in the area we live, where they’re staying — it wasn’t as strong as they thought it was going to be,” Arias said.