Hurricane Michael is now slamming the panhandle of Florida as a category four hurricane.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service here in Sioux Falls can relate to what the people of Florida are going through right now.
A little over a year ago, Janice Maldonado’s family was in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria slammed into the small island killing thousands of people and leaving behind widespread devastation.
Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage and killed many in the Caribbean, including in Puerto Rico.
“It was a complete catastrophe,” meteorologist Janice Maldonado said.
Janice Maldonado, who works at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, grew up in Puerto Rico.
Her family still lives there today.
During Hurricane Maria she says her family hunkered down and rode out the storm; because that’s really all they could do.
“I’ll never forget that last chat when my mom says ‘Janice I love you, this is terrible, don’t worry about us,” Maldonado said.
The storm knocked out power and communications. It was three long agonizing days before she heard from them, again.
“I just cried they said ‘everything is alright Janice’ it was just a huge relief at least they are fine,” Maldonado said.
Four months after Maria, Maldonado went back to Puerto Rico and she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“It is so difficult to see your island to see the place where you grew up completely different,” Maldonado said.
At the National Weather Service, Maldonado has been tracking Hurricane Michael and says it’s very similar to Hurricane Maria and can sympathize with what Floridians are going through right now.
“It’s not going to be the same, as before it’s going to be and I’m pretty sure right now the stress and anxiety that they are feeling I can feel that with them.”
Maldonado says she survived Hurricane George in 1998 when it slammed Puerto Rico when she was just 11 years old.
She says that’s when she decided to become a meteorologist.