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World

'I'm Really Scared Right Now': Bracing For Hurricane Maria

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

This morning we're following the progress of Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean. Overnight, the storm crashed into St. Croix and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And that is where Tanya-Marie Singh lives.

TANYA-MARIE SINGH: You can hear it, the wind howling outside. You are hearing things being ripped up, things falling down. I think one of my friends told me a tree fell on their carport. Doors are being ripped apart. So it's intense.

KELLY: Singh decided to ride out the storm at her office, and she spent the night there.

SINGH: It's hours of unknown, of just a beating of wind. Right now, even though I have shutters, it's like somebody trying to get into my office - just keep rattling and rattling the door. It's nerve-wracking.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And Maria, this morning, is making landfall on Puerto Rico now. It is a direct hit, and that is unnerving even for hurricane veterans like Abel Mendez, who says he has been through enough hurricanes to know what they sound like.

ABEL MENDEZ: I've never been that scared for a hurrican. This is totally, for me, different. This is totally different for the island. And I'm really scared right now (laughter).

GREENE: Mendez is a professor who lives near Arecibo, Puerto Rico. We reached him in the middle of the night, just hours before the storm was due to make landfall. And Mendez said he couldn't stop watching radar images of Maria getting close.

MENDEZ: I already had slept maybe one hour or so. I wish (laughter) I could go to sleep. But right now, I can't. And I just try to distract myself. But - I don't know. I will try to sleep, but I don't know if I can make it.

KELLY: Mendez says his house is made of concrete, so he should be OK riding out the storm. That is also what Kyle Melin told us. He and his wife live near the coast in San Juan. They had offers to leave Puerto Rico, and they turned them down.

KYLE MELIN: We had family that offered to buy us tickets to get us out of here (laughter). They sold out pretty quick. But we wanted to stay. And our community is here. Everybody else here doesn't have anywhere to go, and we wanted to stay and help everybody out as much as we can.

GREENE: That is Kyle Melin, just one of the many people in Hurricane Maria's path. And we are trying as best we can to follow what is happening to you if you are affected by this storm. If you want to reach out to us and tell us what you are seeing, hearing, experiencing, you can email us at hurricane.npr.org (ph). You can go to npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.