Cleveland area residents pray for loved ones in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic as Hurricane Fiona hits

Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 11:42 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Prayers for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republican from families all over Northeast Ohio concerned about their loved ones riding out.

Hurricane Fiona, a category 1 storm that hit landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday. The hurricane is also set to hit the Dominican Republic on Monday.

Hurricane Fiona in all it’s fury is not expected to be nearly as powerful as Hurricane Maria when it slammed into Puerto Rico in 2017. But, in all of it’s fury, Fiona has produced winds of well over 100 miles per hour, bridges and roads have been washed out, the entire island has no electricity and 36 hours of heavy rain is predicted.

Ariana Ortiz has a number of family members in Puerto Rico, and says they still have never fully recovered from the last hurricane and she’s concerned about what Fiona could do, “I’m very worried about my family, already there is a crippling health system in Puerto Rico and they haven’t really gained power lines and normalcy over there. This deteriorates any progress they have made.”

Nelson Delgado of Cleveland was thankful he’s still able to reach his brother Javier Guadalupe in Puerto Rico by telephone. He says his brother is forced to ride out Hurricane Fiona hunkered down inside of his home in the dark, “No electric, all the trees are down, rain, the river rising and everyone is staying in their homes.”

Millie Hernandez of Cleveland is worried and desperate to get to her daughters and grandchildren in Puerto Rico. Her Saturday flight to San Juan was cancelled, but she’s hoping her Monday flight will make it in, but all Ports may be closed, “They’re saying expect 36 hours of rain, heavy rain. So, the rivers and everything are really bad.”

The Gracia and Ortiz families in Lorain have a number of relatives in Puerto Rico, including sisters and cousins who they have only been able to talk to by text. One Aunt asked her niece Ariana Ortiz for prayers to get through what weather experts have warned could be days of torrential rain and catastrophic flooding, “She told me that right now they’re safe, but this hurricane Fiona is very strong and to just keep them in their prayers because it’s rough right now.”

Lisette Gracia is fearful that some homes and businesses may not survive the extreme wind, mudslides, never-ending rain and flooding. But, she’s praying no more lives will be lost, “So, I just can’t imagine what it’s going to be like after.”

Iris Gracia has real concerns about the safety of her sister and other loved ones, because Gracia has been through three hurricanes herself, “Yes, I’ve been through them in Florida and I went through them in Puerto Rico, with Hurricane Maria, which was the worst I’ve ever seen.”

But, Iris says the people of Puerto Rico are strong and are already powering through, like her nephew, who is a doctor, saving lives in spite of crippling conditions from the hurricane, “You know he had surgery going on with no electricity.”

Along with praying for the people of Puerto Rico, people are asking for prayers for Santa Domingo and the Dominican Republic, saying they are even worse off economically than Puerto Rico.