Orange County

‘It’s like a loop happening again’: Hurricane Fiona brings back memories of Maria in Puerto Rico

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Hurricane Fiona is bringing back haunting memories in Puerto Rico of Hurricane Maria that ravaged the island five years ago.

University of Cental Florida alumnae Katina Rentas remembers Hurricane Maria like it was yesterday. She lived in Puerto Rico when the storm hit five years ago.


She said seeing the devastation from Hurricane Fiona is heartbreaking.

“We haven’t really recovered from that. There were still people that had the blue tarps and the roofs. And now it’s back to square one,” Rentas said. “No roads, no electricity, no water. It just feels like it’s like a loop happening again.”

Read: Relief efforts for Puerto Rico underway after island hit by Hurricane Fiona

Rentas was on the UCF campus to be a part of a conversation about Hurricane Maria since she lived through it.

She transferred to UCF from the University of Puerto Rico in 2018, a little less than a year after Hurricane Maria.

“I already had like family here so it was a little easier transition,” she said.

Watch: Fiona becomes major Category 3 hurricane as it impacts Turks and Caicos Islands

Hispanic and Latino students make up more than 28% of UCF’s undergraduate student body.

The university waived out-of-state fees for students displaced by Maria. The tuition deal for survivors was extended through summer 2023.

Rentas said it’s a huge relief for students.

See: Hurricane Fiona: Photos, videos capture destruction in Puerto Rico

“So that those students could be able to finish their degree here at UCF because if they would have been back to out of state tuition, that wouldn’t have been possible,” she said.

UCF officials said there have been 345 Puerto Rican students who received in-state tuition rates since spring 2018.

WATCH: ‘Hurricane Maria: Power & Perseverance’

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.