Central Floridians worry about family in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Irma

Eight flights to San Juan, PR cancelled due to storm

ORLANDO, Fla. – A state of emergency has been declared in Puerto Rico as the territory braces for Hurricane Irma. Central Floridians are concerned about friends and family who live on the island.

"Worried, very worried," Mark Kettering said.

Kettering waited at Orlando International Airport Wednesday afternoon for his wife and daughter. The pair made it on one of the last flights from San Juan, Puerto Rico, ahead of Hurricane Irma. Eight flights to San Juan were cancelled.

"They were suppose to come home on Thursday, but they booked their flight for today to avoid the hurricane," Kettering said.

Kettering told News 6 his family had been in Puerto Rico for a week. At first they weren't sure of how dangerous Irma would be, but as soon as Kettering learned the island was in the storm's path he knew his family had to get home quickly.

"I got really worried. I said, 'You got to get on a plane. You've got to come down here. I'd rather have you here than in you in Puerto Rico,'" Kettering said.

The U.S. National Weather Service said Puerto Rico has not seen a hurricane of Irma's magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and Florida.

The island's 3.4 million residents are bracing for the worst. The head of the power company said parts of the island could be in the dark for weeks or even months after the storm, according to CBS News.

"The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we've ever seen," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. "A lot of infrastructures won't be able to withstand this kind of force."

News 6 spoke via FaceTime to Arnold Machuca, who decided not to evacuate his home in the southern portion of the country. He said it had been raining bad off and on all day.

"We already don't have light, the lights went off," Machuca said. "The people in the north are going to get messed up."

Kettering told News 6 he is also worried about his grandparents. He said they didn't leave their home, even though he said the government forced thousands of people to evacuate.

"From the beach area and all that, they're trying to move them out," Kettering said.

Kettering said some of his fears are relieved now that his family is home and they're thankful to weather out the storm together.

"Everybody scared back there?" News 6 asked. "Yes, too scared," Yomaris Kettering, Mark Kettering's wife, said.

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