Connecticut residents in Puerto Rico bracing for Irma

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HARTFORD — Gladys Rivera, a longtime resident in Connecticut’s capital city, retired down to Puerto Rico in April. Today, she is bracing for Hurricane Irma from her new home in Humacao in southeast Puerto Rico.

This morning, Rivera spoke to FOX 61 by video chat, saying that she and her neighbors are prepared and hunkered down. “We were helping each other kind of board things, up,” said Rivera. “And take things off of the road, cleaning up the sidewalks, making sure there was nothing that would be a projectile.”

Rivera said all stores and roads closed today at noon. She had already stocked up on barrels of water and nonperishable foods. “Yesterday, the lines were outrageous to get gas and last-minute supplies,” said Rivera. “The drugstores were also very gull, people getting last-minute medications.”

Rivera had already lost Internet when we spoke to her around 11 a.m. and anticipated losing power. “The power infrastructure here is actually really, really bad, and there is a possibility that we will be without electricity for maybe weeks or months.”

Rivera said the day started with high winds and rain, before turning calm later in the morning. Shortly before 4:30 p.m., she said she lost power. Around 5:15 p.m., she said trees were flying and water was coming into her home.

In Mayaguez, a town in western Puerto Rico, retired Hartford firefighter Juan Rodriguez was preparing for Irma as well. Rodriguez is in Puerto Rico visited family, but could not get out in time to escape the storm.

“I call it the monster, the huge monster coming this way,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez spoke to FOX 61 by video chat in between boarding up windows at his family’s home. Neighbors were also boarding up windows in preparation. Rodriguez estimated that things tonight would be chaotic.

He said his family members in more dangerous spots have already moved. “I still have family that was down by the beach,” said Rodriguez. “They all were evacuated. They’re in shelters right now.”

Rodriguez said he went to Walmart late Tuesday night, but found empty shelves. “They had no water, no water,” said Rodriguez. “No D batteries.”

He said generators sold out days ago. “You couldn’t get your hands on one even if you had the money.”

Rodriguez said he was forced to by water at a steeper price. “I went to all the stores and I couldn’t find water,” said Rodriguez. “And then, I went up the street and there was only one guy in a corner there standing, and he was selling water and I paid $10 for a case of water that I’d normally pay about $3 for. But, it is what it is.”

If you’d like to help the victims of Hurricane Irma, please visit the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda’s website: