KEYC - Gustavus Professor Continues To Stay In Contact With Family In S

Gustavus Professor Continues To Stay In Contact With Family In San Juan

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SAINT PETER, MN -

With Hurricane Maria wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, one Minnesota professor is staying up–to–date with the storm, as it spins through a familiar place.

Shortly after 6 a.m., heavy rains along with winds gusting as strong as 155 miles per hour blasted trees and damaged buildings on the island of Puerto Rico.

Although the category four storm lost strength as it pummeled the island, officials are saying Maria could be the strongest to ever hit the country.

More than a foot of rain is expected to fall through Friday and thousands of people have raced to shelters.

2300–hundred miles northwest in Saint Peter, a Gustavus geography professor is constantly trying to stay in touch with his family in San Juan, where he grew up.

Joaquin Villanueva said "I was able to just receive a text from my mom, that everything is fine thus far. I've been in contact with them since last night continuously. My sister, I can't reach her. I think her cell phone signal died, so I can't really reach her, but I'm betting that she's OK."

Wednesday, the Puerto Rican government said the entire country lost power due to Maria.

But no deaths have been reported on the U.S. territory.

As the storm powers through the island, Villanueva says he will continue to look online through numerous platforms to help assist not only his family, but Puerto Ricans everywhere in any way possible.

Villanueva added that "We're here with you. I've been in contact with a lot of folks in the diaspora, here in the United States. We're all very worried, we all have you in our minds. We're constantly checking the news, social media and sort of we're prepared to help in the reconstruction right after this hurricane passes through."

Maria is the first category four hurricane to pass through the country, since San Ciprian did it in 1932.

Maria is now a Category 2 storm.

The Governor has issued a curfew for residents of Puerto Rico that will run from 6 pm to 6 am, ending Saturday morning.

President Trump has also declared Puerto Rico a disaster zone.

- KEYC 12