In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Morgane Guyard fled St. Martin, worried about dwindling food supplies and the chaos on her island after the storm ripped through.

On Monday, she was bracing for yet another major storm, Hurricane Maria, which was heading straight for the island that she and hundreds of others had escaped to for sanctuary, Guadeloupe.

"This year we are cursed," Guyard, 28, said after a morning of last-minute grocery shopping as the hurricane approached. "When will we be able to breathe again? When will all of the hurricanes stop?"

As Hurricane Maria barreled through the constellation of islands that curve through the Caribbean, it gained strength — quickly. In 27 hours, it grew from a Category 1 storm to what the National Hurricane Center called "a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane," with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, as it raced toward Puerto Rico and the already-pummeled British and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Some islands still reeling from the effect of Hurricane Irma were bracing late Monday for Round 2, closing schools, stores and just about everything else before Maria made landfall.

Emergency shelters were beginning to fill up Monday on the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica and Montserrat, as well as on St. Kitts and Nevis. Those who chose to stay home were busy boarding up their houses, trimming trees or stockpiling food and water.

Karine Fleury, 47, a psychologist in Martinique, which was also expected to be hit by Maria, said she found out about the storm only on Sunday while shopping for groceries. After that, it was a race to prepare herself for the storm's landing.

"I know it's going to be impressive during the storm," she said. "And when we go out for the first time afterward, seeing the fallen trees and the damage, it's always scary."

Though Maria is expected to trace a similar path to Hurricane Irma, some of the islands hit hardest by that storm may be spared. Instead, having escaped the wrath of Irma, the islands of Guadeloupe and Dominica were expected to bear the initial brunt of Maria. Its eye and "intense inner core" passed over Dominica Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center said.

But the already storm-battered islands could be affected in other ways. In addition to being the main sanctuary for those evacuating St. Martin, Guadeloupe has also become the staging ground for the relief effort. If the storm hits hard, it could delay or upend the desperately needed aid going to its neighbor.

Though the number of hurricanes passing through the Caribbean feels exceptional this year, experts say it is not unheard-of. Ten years ago, Hurricanes Karl, Igor and Julia were all active at the same time. In 1998, four hurricanes passed through the Atlantic at once, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Still, the number of serious storms this year is higher than average.

A typical season has six hurricanes, with three of those becoming major hurricanes. More than halfway through this season, there have been seven hurricanes, four which have been major.