Colorado natives brace for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico


Hurricane Maria as seen from the International Space Station. Courtesy: NASA

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DENVER – For the second time this month, Puerto Rico is bracing for a major hurricane.

Hurricane Maria is expected to make landfall on the U.S. Territory Wednesday morning. Hurricane Irma just brushed past the island two weeks ago. But experts are warning this storm will be much worse.

“People might not understand the magnitude of this hurricane or think it won’t hit us as hard. All indications are that this will be devastating and catastrophic,” Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello said Tuesday.

The island has opened 500 storm shelters because evacuation isn’t an option for many residents.

“We can’t just leave. You can get on a plane but that’s getting a lot more expensive the closer the storm gets and it’s your home. If it happens every two weeks you can’t just leave. So it’s a lot different when you live on an island,” Cassie Kauffman told FOX31.

Kauffman and her husband Britton were born and raised in Greeley, Colorado. The couple moved to Puerto Rico about four years ago. They live in a rural town on the west side of the island.

“We have no idea what to expect. We’ve never been in a hurricane,” Britton said.

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They say they over-prepared for Hurricane Irma and are now ready to ride out Hurricane Maria. The storm is expected to be the strongest to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years.

“We’ve got 400 gallons of water and we have a generator and the food is stocked with canned goods and all sorts of different stuff,” Britton said.

They will stay in their wood cabin as Hurricane Maria passes. They spent the days leading up to the storm boarding up their windows and gathering supplies. The Kauffmans say they believe the aftermath will be the most difficult to endure.

“Sometimes we’ll just lose water or electricity even just in a downpour,” Cassie said.

They estimate after Maria’s 165 mile per hour winds tear through, they could be without power for several weeks to months.

“I just hope that the United States mainland doesn’t forget that there are millions more here,” Britton said.

“And that this is part of the U.S.” Cassie added.

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