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Former Utahns living in Puerto Rico cope with Hurricane Irma, prepare for Maria

Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 19, 2017

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Knowles moved from Draper to Puerto Rico in June, so they've gotten a double-whammy welcome from Mother Nature.

"Welcome to Puerto Rico this has never happened before like ever," Jessica Knowles said.

Knowles' neighbors weren't too concerned prior to Hurricane Irma, but after seeing the damage, they're not taking any chances with Maria.

"They’re saying get ready, get to the shelter," Knowles said.  "There`s 500 shelters that have been prepared."

She decided to wait out the storm after a weekend visit from President Henry Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"He was just assuring us," Knowles said.  "It’s going to be hard but you’re strong and you’re going to become stronger for it."

She's also been moved by the people of Puerto Rico who are staying strong through the power of prayer.

"They hold like a prayer service the night before at like ten o`clock and they say everyone prays," Knowles said.

Kristy Smith and her boyfriend Phanuel Kavita, a former Real Salt Lake player, moved to Puerto Rico in April so he could join the soccer team there.

"We live right on the water and it’s like the best thing in the world but when you face a situation like this it can be a little bit scary," Smith said.

They were also going to wait out the storm, until they got a frantic call from Smith’s mom.

"She called and she was like 'you have to get out of there,'" Smith said.  "It’s so dangerous and she basically wouldn`t be able to sleep at night."

So they boarded a plane to Orlando, but they've been getting updates and videos from Kavita’s teammates.

"It’s kind of scary because it’s very loud, the winds, the rain and this time there`s going to be a lot of lightning so we`re lucky to just get out of there and wait it out over here," Kavita said.

Both families love living in Puerto Rico, but two hurricanes in a matter of weeks is a good way to make you miss your home.