NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have issued warnings ahead of a looming tropical storm, and New Yorkers with ties to the Caribbean islands are on alert.
Wanda Vazquez, the governor of Puerto Rico, declared a state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Dorian, and Tuesday night, President Donald Trump approved federal assistance, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reports.
Sandbags are being prepped and island residents are filling shopping carts with bottled water, batteries, generators and other supplies.
The Roberto Clemente Colosseum in San Juan will be opened as shelter during the storm.
The lasting effects of Hurricane Maria from 2017 are still felt and seen as rebuilding continues in some of the hardest-hit areas of the island.
“The whole island has been traumatized, so you have to take that into consideration,” Dr. Jesus Vega said.
Watch: Tracking Tropical Storm Dorian With Lonnie Quinn
Here in New York, those with family in Puerto Rico are tracking the storm.
“I’m very worried about it,” Marcelo Perez said.
“My family that lives in Corozal, which is like the campo area, which is like the country, the roof came off of their house, unfortunately. They’re actually still doing repairs at this time,” Yamila Amari said.
Amari was just in Puerto Rico on Monday night. She says her relatives there are ready and trying to stay calm.
“Yeah, they’re really nervous, but we’re just hoping for the best,” she said.
Raymond Castro says his elderly grandmother and uncle are both there.
“They’ve been through it all, so they kind of know how to do it … but you always worry,” he said.
Island officials say they are also better prepared this time.
City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez hopes that is the case.
“I hope that the government in DC, FEMA, they should be over-prepared so that we can avoid the same thing that happened with Maria,” he said.
But FEMA warns the island’s infrastructure, especially the electrical grid, is still fragile.
“The biggest problem was the power. When they lost the power, they lost water in some of the areas, and so one of the things sort of that we’re very conscious of and we’ve been preparing for is to support [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] if we have a power outage. Right now, we don’t know,” Nick Russo, with FEMA, said.
“We are calling all New Yorkers to be ready in case we get a call from the Red Cross or Hispanic Federation, any institution, to show solidarity at any level,” Rodriguez said.
Many people are booking flights out of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic ahead of the storm. For those who had plans to travel into those areas, many airlines are offering to waive fees for changes or cancellations.