Hoosiers in Caribbean brace for Hurricane Maria

Rain brought by approaching Hurricane Maria falls in Saint Jean Bay, St. Barthelemy, part of the French Antilles, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Enrico Dagnino via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - As Hurricane Maria continues to batter the Carribean, Hoosiers are already down there ready to help.

Wayne Township Fire Capt. Mike Pruitt is in Puerto Rico, where people have spent the day boarding up their homes and businesses. Some fear the storm could leave parts of the island uninhabitable for months.

Pruit got the call to head to San Juan just one day after he returned home from responding to Hurricane Irma damage in Florida. He's part of FEMA's Incident Support Team in charge of coordinating search and rescue efforts for yet another hurricane.

"It's definitely put us to the test. But this is what we train for. It's what we've prepared for, these natural disasters," he said. "And we're a pretty resilient bunch when it comes to planning and overcoming these hurdles of multiple storms."

Pruitt tells Eyewitness News he could already feel the wind starting to pick up Tuesday evening. Maria is expected to make landfall there early Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a singer-songwriter from Nashville, Indiana is riding out Hurricane Maria at his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Artie Cornett, who lives on St. Thomas, rode out Hurricane Irma with the Marines in a bomb shelter. Now as Maria takes aim on theh already devastated area, he's seeking shelter in a concrete stairwell at a friend's apartment building.

"I put, like, a mattress on it and then another mattress to go over me. Because it's really dangerous," he said. "The wind is just really, really howling and there's so much damage from the first hurricane, Irma, everything just scattered on the ground, so it's going to be pretty, pretty dangerous."

Cornett says the extreme weather is scary. He tried to evacuate before Irma hit and again before Maria arrived, but flight cancellations kept him on the island.

He hopes to make it back to Indianapolis for a gig at the end of the month.

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