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“It was pretty ugly” | Travelers return from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona rips through island

Many travelers were on the island for vacation or to visit family and say it was scary what they experienced as the storm went through.

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Dozens of people landed at Bradley International Airport Monday evening after departing from Puerto Rico, which is now recovering from Hurricane Fiona that ripped through the island Sunday.

The hurricane made landfall as a category one storm, ripping away bridges and homes, flooding streets, and knocking out power to the island.

RELATED: Connecticut residents keep a close eye on Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona batters the Caribbean

Many travelers like Jorge Luzunaris were shocked they were even able to depart from the island.

Credit: FOX61
“It was pretty ugly” | travelers return from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona rips through island

"It looked like a disaster actually and a lot of floods and a lot of debris in the road on the way back over here," the Meriden resident who was visiting family said. "Palm trees moving, a lot of the carports... the roof of the carports were ripped out. A lot of trees down and a lot of flood, that's what was going on over there."

Luzunaris, like many others on the flight, was visiting family in the territory. Jose Sierra spent five days visiting his mother. Originally from Puerto Rico, he said the devastation is "ugly."

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"We got about 35 inches of rain," the East Hartford resident said. "We lost our power Sunday morning. It was pretty ugly. I’m glad to be back."

"People were just taking cover. We were staying in a hotel. There was no electricity where we’re depending on the power," she said. "Scary, chaotic. A lot of people were really traumatized from previous hurricanes."

RELATED: Hartford native shows support for his family after Fiona strikes Puerto Rico

Maria Colon, Springfield, flew to the island to also see her family on the northern side of the island. She said that area wasn't hit as badly but still saw the impacts of the storm.

Luzunaris said he spent half his week preparing for the storm, buying food and candles. He said the recovery is likely going to take many weeks. He said he's feeling emotional, but happy to be back home.

Hurricane Maria hit the island five years ago and killed nearly 3,000 people on the island. So far, authorities have reported one death in Puerto Rico and one death in the Dominican Republic from the storm. Travelers say they are grateful the casualties are not as high.

Stamford-based Americares has prepared its San Juan team to deliver medicine and relief to the territory as well as provide emergency funding to help repair damaged health centers. 

"We anticipate that there will be an urgent need to replace medication and medical supplies damaged due to the flooding and power outages, and we also know that survivors will need mental health support as they navigate this crisis and the anniversary of Maria, which is likely to bring back painful memories," Dr. Brenda Rivera-García, senior director of Latin America and Caribbean programs, said. 

The Dominican Republic is also getting hit by the storm. Rafael Olivo with the Red Cross also works in the risk management department for the City of Higuey, an hour west of Punta Cana. He said the eastern part of the island got hit with the hurricane early Monday morning followed by heavy rain. He said 17 neighborhoods in the city are flooded.

Credit: Rafael Olivo
Hurricane Fiona ripped through parts of the Dominican Republic Monday flooding dozens of neighborhoods in Higuey.

Olivo says the damage hurts the people of all the countries as they are so close. He said the government of the Dominican Republic is ready to help if Puerto Rico needs it.

"If they, by any chance, are declared disaster area, and they request international assistance, they ask the Dominican government to help," he said. "We have teams prepared for that kind of thing, and we’d be able to move within 24 hours."

He said the southeastern part of the Dominican Republic hasn't been hit by a hurricane since 2004 when Hurricane Jeanne went through. He said they are better prepared to handle and recover from the storms because of help from the United States. 

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


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