Puerto Ricans on the mainland watch, wait after Maria devastates U.S. territory

Image 1 of 10

Hurricane Maria has destroyed parts of Puerto Rico and its impacts are already being felt by people in the Bay Area and Florida.

Now, people in Florida are desperate to get in touch with family in impacted areas – where communication is scarce.

“Being here and not being able to helping them,” Andres Negron said, explaining his feeling of helplessness.

Negron’s grandmother lives on the island. Every time he calls, he gets a busy signal. Landlines and cell service are down.

He was able to get through at the beginning of the storm, just as she said her house was flooding.

“It’s frustrating because she called me during the first part but now it’s the worst part, and not being able to talk with them and knowing what’s happening is like,” Negron trailed off. “The worst part is you don’t know when you’re going to hear from her again.”

LINK: Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

Wilfredo Quiles is in the same situation. He last spoke to his mother at five this morning. Her house was also taking on water.

“It’s like your emotions just paralyzed. It’s all you think about. You can’t function. I’m at work today but my head is just not here,” Quiles said.

Live video coming from news crews in Puerto Rico show the street where Andres grew up. He was able to watch helplessly as the images poured in on social media.

But now, nothing but silence and waiting.

Eloy Perez is staying glued to his phone, waiting to hear from relatives.

“I have trust in God everything will be under control,” he said.

Born in Puerto Rico, Perez moved to the U.S. mainland around the age of 16. Five years ago he retired back to the island.

He's on vacation in Tampa now, though relaxing is almost impossible.

“I'm very concerned about my dad's house and my own house too which could be some damage to it,” Perez said.

Also keeping a close watch is Tampa's Luis Vazquez who has family scattered across the island. He's using Facebook messenger to keep tabs on loved ones.

“We're trying to find out exactly if everyone's OK. You never know what's going to happen: A landslide, tree goes through a house,” Vazquez said.

By mid-day Wednesday, the entire U.S. territory was left without power.  The Category 4 hurricane is the worst to hit there in 85 years. Around 500 shelters were opened for residents, some of whom were evacuated to Puerto Rico seeking refuge from a Category 5 storm: Hurricane Irma.

“Things will be ok we're strong and we have faith in god and the people will rebuild again,” Perez said.