SLIDELL - Local residents with ties to Puerto Rico, especially with relatives there, are anxious as they worry about the scope of damage and how Hurricane Irma might impact their family members.
Chico Fraticelli has been worried watching any coverage on the hurricane.
“Puerto Rico is a very small island but we are very proud of who we are. We carry our hearts on our sleeve, family oriented. Family is everything,” Fraticelli said.
Fraticelli’s parents, one 76 years old and the other 81 years old, remains in Puerto Rico along with his sister and her family and his wife’s family. Fraticelli and his wife remain in Slidell.
“That I think is the toughest part because we are not down there. We don't know what's going on. I’ve been up all night. My wife has been up all night. We've been taking turns. I’ve been so worried. I've been doing yard work and I really don't like doing yard work,” Fraticelli said.
Fraticelli said he is concerned about Irma’s category 5 impact and the aftermath. While he says most homes are built with concrete for such a scenario, the already weak infrastructure being damaged could result in no electricity or water for months, as seen in past storms.
“He writes, 'Everything still the same. We're still praying. God bless you.' I replied, 'Thanks poppa just keep sending me messages, basically keep me updated,'” Fraticelli said. Fraticelli and his wife have been able to keep in contact with loved ones easily so far, but that is of little comfort.
“Even though he was saying everything was going to be alright, I know he was worried and my daddy never worries so that worries me,” Fraticelli said.
So he is doing what he can for now and just waiting.
“I just want to tell everybody back home and Puerto Ricans here on the main land and around the world, just say your prayers. That's about it,” Fraticelli said.
The National Weather Service says Puerto Rico has not seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928.