NEW ORLEANS – Maria is the second major hurricane to threaten Puerto Rico in just as many weeks and this time locals who have family and friends there fear the island could suffer from a direct hit.
It was only two weeks ago that Eyewitness News talked with Jim Gillis about Hurricane Irma. Now with Hurricane Maria, he is worried even more than before.
“We had destruction of our roads. The internal roads of our farm completely washed out,” Gillis said.
Gillis was born in San Juan and runs the Puerto Rico Coffee Company in New Orleans. He says his workers on the coffee farm as well as friends on the island have been reeling from Irma.
“40 percent of our coffee harvest and now with Maria coming, at 165 miles per hour, Category 5, it's probably going to decimate the entire coffee industry," Gillis said.
Like Gillis, Nina Fraticelli in Slidell, who is also from San Juan, says she will not be able to get any rest as the storm moves closer to Puerto Rico.
“The path right now, it's right there,” Fraticelli said.
Fraticelli and her husband both have relatives on the island. They say landfall could be worse this time.
“There are all the debris, and stuff and some people are still without power,” Fraticelli said.
Her husband’s parents will be closer to the eye of the storm and he is worried sick.
“You know, if you lived through a tornado, it's the same but instead of being a couple of minutes and it's going to be hours,” Chico Fraticelli said.
The couple plan on checking in with friends and family until the storm passes. Meanwhile, Gillis says he is planning to fly back to help in the aftermath.
"When it's time to go in, I hope people volunteer and come and help rebuild Puerto Rico,” Gillis said.
Unlike the Gulf Coast, he says people on the island will be stuck and need all the assistance they can get.