Durham man desperate to reach family in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Friday, September 22, 2017
Families worry about relatives in Puerto Rico
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Families worry about relatives in Puerto Rico

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Carmelo Figueroa and his fiance, Jennifer Molina, have been glued to news reports about Puerto Rico from their apartment in Durham since Hurricane Maria struck the island.

Figueroa hasn't been able to get in touch with his brother and mother, who still live in Bayamon, which is about a 20-minute drive from San Juan.

"I'm assuming everyone is trying to call," Figueroa said. "Hurricanes can knock down telephone lines easily."

Figueroa's brother, Miguel Ruiz, is in his 50's and his mother, Dolores Blanco Elena, is in her 80's and in a wheelchair.

Dolores Blanco Elena
Credit: Carmelo Figueroa

And seeing the devastation on the news has Figueroa fearing the worst.

"I just want my mother," Figueroa said, sobbing. "I just want to see my mother, even if it's for the last time. I just want to know if she's alright. That's all I want to know."

Figueroa said his mother insisted on waiting out the storm in her concrete home.

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But he fears Maria was too powerful even for that.

He said he last heard from his mother 12 hours before the hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico and he hasn't been able to get in touch with police there either.

"I don't know if she's in an abandoned building," Figueroa said. "I don't know if she's underneath a car. I don't even know if she's dead."

RELATED: Can't get in touch with your family in Puerto Rico? Here's what you can do