Local residents worried about relatives in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Irma nears

Schools have already closed, and 456 shelters are ready for as many as 62,000 people

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Governor of Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency due to Hurricane Irma.

People told 22News they are thinking of their loved ones as the storm’s intensity increases.

Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 4 storm Monday. Trackers say the storm could hit Puerto Rico as early as Wednesday.

Schools have already closed, and 456 shelters are ready for as many as 62,000 people.

Local residents told 22News they’re worried about their relatives who are still on the Island.

“If it hits, I want to make sure they’re okay, before, during, and after just to have that reassurance that everything is okay,” Gretchen Ramirez of Springfield told 22News.

Hurricane Irma strengthens to a Category 4 storm

After seeing Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, Hurricane Irma is causing concern here.

“I thought oh it won’t be that bad but after Harvey, now we’re getting this right after it so it’s a scary thing,” said Raymond Guerra of Springfield.

Even those without family in Puerto Rico are showing their support.

“Coming off one tragedy and then having another that’s upcoming, that’s unfortunate,” said Elijah Burston. “My prayers go out to all the families in Texas as well as Puerto Rico.”

The U.S. Hurricane Center said as of Monday afternoon, Irma had winds of 130 mph. The speed of those winds is expected to increase over the next two days.