As Hurricane Irma Threatens, Connecticut Has Eyes On Puerto Rico

Sep 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma is now a powerful Category 5 storm, and it’s headed for the island of Puerto Rico -- a literal and emotional home for hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents. And on Hartford’s Park Street -- the lifeblood of many local Latino businesses -- people are paying close attention. 

“I’m just afraid for my people right now,” said Betty Rosario, as she and her sister Jessica Rosario were walking into Sol De Borinquen Bakery. “I’m very concerned because of the financial difficulties we’re going through as an island already.”

Their father is from Naguabo, while their mother is from southwest of there in Arroyo, Jessica Rosario said. “If there were to be a flood, our family farm that’s down there would be wiped out,” she said.

El Mejor Equipo Hair Salon, owned by Sonia Ayala, is down the street from Sol De Borinquen Bakery.
Credit Frankie Graziano / WNPR

Just down the street, Sonia Ayala was cutting a woman’s hair at El Mejor Equipo. She’s a member of the local Lions Club, she has family in Puerto Rico, and when a hurricane strikes, Ayala said the club wants to join in on the relief effort.

“As a matter of fact, we’ve got a fundraiser that’s going to be going on at Salute for Harvey,” she said.

After they raise money for Harvey, Sonia said they’ll move on to tackling Irma — which obviously won’t affect only local Puerto Ricans.

The storm may land Thursday in the Dominican Republic, which is where Juan Campos is from. He’s hoping that when his friends and family are told to get out, they’ll listen.

“So, I called somebody over there, my friend, [and said] ‘Be careful, it’s very dangerous there,” Campos said.

Federal officials say the storm could hit Puerto Rico as early as Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Connecticut officials are urging residents to plan ahead.

Standing in front of an evacuation map at New Haven Emergency Operations Tuesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy said the state is at the height of hurricane season and it’s important for everyone to be prepared.

“Now is a good time to make sure that your homeowners and flood insurance is up-to-date,” Malloy said. “Make sure that you have basic supplies, such as a first aid kit, batteries, canned foods, water, as well as your prescription drugs, should you rely on those, ready and moveable so that if you have to vacate your premises you take those important things with you.”  

The governor also reminded residents to download the free Connecticut Prepares App, which includes resources, state updates, and weather information.