Fiona brings back memories of Maria for families with loved ones in Puerto Rico

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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WINDSOR, Vt. (WCAX) - For those with loved ones on the island of Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona is an all-too-familiar reminder of the power of Mother Nature. That includes a woman in the Upper Valley whose family is still in harm’s way.

It’s been nearly five years to the day that Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, causing thousands of deaths and billions in damage. Fiona is sparking memories of that storm while at the same time, bringing new worries.

“I worry, I worry every time,” said Melissa Lopez-Jackson of Windsor.

Lopez-Jackson is a surgical coordinator for Dartmouth Health. She hasn’t been back to her native Puerto Rico since COVID, but her mother and brother are still on the island which is currently underwater.

“She said it kept raining and raining. I think they have had 25 inches of rain,” Lopez-Jackson said.

The rains wiped out power to most of the island. At least 1,000 people had to be rescued from the deluge. Thankfully, Lopez-Jackson’s family was not among them.

“Where she lives it’s high, up high, a hill. If it is going to be winds, that is when I worry,” Lopez-Jackson explained.

The flooding and devastation from Hurricane Fiona is a stark reminder of the last major hurricane to hit the island.

“It was hard, Maria was so hard because I didn’t know anything about my family for probably about a week,” Lopez-Jackson said.

She says after that storm five years ago, solar panels were installed on her mom’s house which is why she is still able to communicate with her this time around.

“She is in her 70s, so she is not alone, my brother helps. She helps my brother as well,” Lopez-Jackson said. “So, I know they are OK. If it’s water, rain, I know they are OK.”

It’s estimated that about 1.4 million people are without power on the island. President Biden has issued an Emergency Disaster Declaration.

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