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By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– Hurricane Maria took the tropical island of Puerto Rico and turned it into something resembling a battleground.

At the Puerto Rican restaurant El Coqui D’aqui at Colorado Boulevard and Evans Avenue in Denver, those inside were hoping to get in touch with family and friends.hurricane maria 6pkg frame 296 Puerto Rican Restaurant Patrons Pray For Those Hit By Maria

Guillermo Gonzalez motioned to the replica of a Puerto Rican wooden home with the tin roof and said, “My dad’s house is just like this and I’m pretty sure it has been blown away.”

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Guillermo Gonzalez (credit: CBS)

The normally crystal clear Caribbean waters surged over the streets wiping out businesses and homes.

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Puerto Rico (credit: CBS)

Jeicky Polaco, an insurance agent in Thornton, was able to get through to his mother by using an app.

“My mother’s house doesn’t exist anymore. It was half wood and half concrete. It’s basically all gone,” he said.

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CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Jeicky Polaco (credit: CBS)

Puerto Rico’s natural beauty, its culture and beaches are among its draws. Power could be out for months in many locations. The tourism business has been shut down.

hurricane maria 6pkg frame 1724 Puerto Rican Restaurant Patrons Pray For Those Hit By Maria

Puerto Rico (credit: CBS)

Alex Rivera, the owner of el Coqui D’aqui, said, “What I’ve heard, it’s taking the island back 50 or 60 years from the devastation.”

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Puerto Rico (credit: CBS)

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Puerto Rico (credit: CBS)

Mother Nature has delivered a one-two punch to this U.S. island territory. First, a glancing blow from Hurricane Irma, now a knockout punch from Maria.

hurricane maria 6pkg frame 0 Puerto Rican Restaurant Patrons Pray For Those Hit By Maria

Puerto Rico (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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