Puerto Rico Braces For Category 5 Hurricane Maria

CHICAGO (CBS) — Hurricane Irma, and now Maria, are dealing a brutal one-two punch to the island of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico hasn’t even had a chance to recover from Irma and, already, the boards are going up again — specifically at a restaurant one Chicagoan and her Puerto Rican husband took over this summer.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez spoke with them via Skype.

CBS: How long were you in business before this happened?

“We were open for five days!” Jen Longawa Lauria said.

Then uprooted trees, broken cement barriers and cut power lines took over the island.

“We lost a few thousand dollars in meats, seafood and vegetables that we were not able to protect,” Longawa Lauria said.

And now the island is bracing for Hurricane Maria.

“The hardware stores are completely cleared out,” Longawa Lauria said. “If we didn’t have boards from Irma, we would not be able to get supplies to properly secure our business.”

Many Puerto Ricans in Chicago feel powerless to help.

maria winds Puerto Rico Braces For Category 5 Hurricane Maria

(Credit: CBS Miami)

“Another friend went to five different places yesterday looking for water and gas — zero,” Christina Pacione Zayas said.

Zayas is helping organize a benefit to help Puerto Rico, saying the U.S. government is not stepping up.

“When it’s convenient for the United States, Puerto Rico is a part of it. When it’s inconvenient, it’s that island far off over there. And this is a human crisis.”

Puerto Rico was dealing with a crumbling infrastructure before Hurricane Irma. After Maria goes through, the island will need a helping hand. Zayas’ benefit will take place Friday at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Center, 4046 West Armitage, from 7 to 11 p.m.

Hurricane Maria is currently a Category 5 storm, that is expected to be a still-powerful Category 4 storm when it hits Puerto Rico.

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