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NE Ohioans with families in Puerto Rico worry about loved ones in Irma's path

Posted at 7:22 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 19:22:09-04

It's the call Alexandra Pagan has been anticipating and dreading, her worry growing as Hurricane Irma's eye sweeps over Puerto Rico.

Pagan's family is on the island, bracing for the worst.

"They're scared, genuinely they are scared, you can tell in their voices," Pagan said. "We can only give them words of encouragement."

Irma is the biggest storm to hit the Caribbean nation in nearly 100 years. Puerto Rico's governor declared a state of emergency and designated emergency shelters.

"I can only pray for a good outcome with a Category 5," Pagan said.

Especially for her grandfather, who is in his 90s.

"My grandfather is an old-timer that believes it is going to miss us."

The natural disaster comes second to a financial one the country has been experiencing. Puerto Rico is $74 billion in debt, leaving it on the verge on bankruptcy.

"To that extent, one of the recommendations of that oversight body was to cut back on things like safety forces," said Juan Molina Crespo who has family in Puerto Rico.

Crespo fears the country's financial woes will affect the recovery effort. He is also concerned about the restoration of power. The Puerto Rican Power Authority estimates some residents will be out of power anywhere from four to six months.

"You lose electricity, not only do you lose air conditioning, which is a necessity in Puerto Rico, but you lose access to water," Crespo said.