Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images
Trees are toppled in a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria.
In the neighborhood of Miramar in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, Gerry Garraton said he was ready for the storm.
“I am prepared. I have water, I have cash, I boarded up my windows, I have gas. That’s it,” said Garraton, smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk near his home.
Garraton, 58, planned to be alone in his apartment in Miramar during the storm, and said he could stay there a few days, if needed.
Shelters in Puerto Rico have capacity for nearly 70,000 people, but Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Fernando Gil said he was concerned that only 299 people had taken refuge in official centers as of Tuesday morning.
Mary Luz, 43, and her daughter Summer Torres Varela, 23, who has epilepsy, went to the medical shelter at Puerto Rico Convention Center in Isla Grande, near old San Juan, on Tuesday. Torres Varela was vacationing in St. Thomas during Irma and experienced three seizures, Luz said.
Maria is the 13th named Atlantic storm of the year, the seventh hurricane so far this season and the fourth major hurricane – defined as Category 3 or higher – following Harvey, Irma and Jose, the NHC said. Those numbers are all above average for a typical season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
As the eye of the hurricane passed over eastern Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning, former governor Louis Fortuno said his island is in a more advantageous position than surrounding territories to return to pre-hurricane conditions in time for tourist season.
“There are so many other islands that are completely devastated. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure is stronger, actually,” Fortuno said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
“We were receiving, on the island, people from other islands after Irma,” he said. “I’m hopeful that by the height of the season during the holidays, Puerto Rico will be able to receive those tourists back.”