OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - "I'm devastated, I'm nervous, I'm anxious," said Ocean Springs resident Gloria Perez as she awaits any word from her family in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
Perez, who came to South Mississippi 24 years ago, spent her day Wednesday watching the television, hoping for news. She last spoke to her family Tuesday night.
"They said that they were starting to get some wind gusts and a little rain. My sister texted me this morning that she was horrified because the wind was already pretty strong," Perez said, "So I haven't been able to talk to anybody ever since."
For her, watching Hurricane Maria barrel across Puerto Rico, brings back vivid memories of Hurricane Katrina.
"It just brought me flashbacks from back then, from Katrina," she said. "I mean, it was so terrible here I can't imagine how it's going to be over there."
Perez knows the river in her hometown is already out of its banks and hopes it doesn't destroy her family's business. She says she knows the tiny island will never be the same again.
"It's just beautiful, and just to think that I might be going to nothing, to see nothing of what I remember growing up and all that, it just gives me chills," said Perez. "It's going to be years before the island gets back on track, I know. Especially the rain forest."
With the storm moving away from the island now, Perez is hopeful she will hear word from her family soon.
"I'm just, I don't know," she said. "I've been crying all night and all day today because I don't know what to expect. What I went though with Katrina, and this is the U.S. I cannot imagine a small island. We are a small island."