Local Puerto Ricans pray for their loved ones caught in Hurricane Maria’s wrath

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) – Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as the strongest storm to hit the country in 80 years. It was the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico felt the wrath of a hurricane.

Inside the De Rican Chef restaurant in Virginia Beach, staff stand together feeling helpless as they wait to hear back from loved ones back home.

“Everybody here, they have family over there and they’re all worried and thinking, we don’t get communication about what’s going on, what’s happening. We are waiting,” says the restaurant’s owner Raquel Rivera.

She and her husband Jose Albino grew up on the island and they last spoke with their family members still living there early Wednesday morning. Raquel says her sister had water coming into her home, but she is very worried about her mother.

“Mom is kind of calm, you know, she’s 81, she’s like everything is fine I see other ones before,” says Albino. But he is quick to point out no one has seen one like Maria.

Jose fears it will be far worse than Hugo in 1989. Raquel was there when that storm hit.

“I saw refrigerators, mattresses, furniture blowing out of the building. I have pictures of cars over top of other cars, it was a disaster,” says Albino.

Jose remembers that in 1998 Hurricane George knocked out power for months. Once again, power has been knocked across the island.

“But now (Maria) is category four and it’s really bad, its really, really bad,” Albino says.

They all keep their eyes on the television, as does Evelyn Crumbley.

“It’s hard, I keep going to the TV while I’m working. I keep going for updates,” Crumbley says.

Evelyn works for WAVY and also has a mother and father she can’t reach.

“He lives in the country, and he has chickens and roosters and goats that he wanted to make sure that they were okay,” she says.

She is worried. They are all worried and there’s nothing they can do but wait.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Raquel heard from her sister and she is safe. She still had not reached her Mom.