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Couple describes Puerto Rico as a 'war zone' after Maria

Posted September 29

— The recovery effort in Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Jose and Maria is expected to take months, maybe even years.

Tiffany Veniez and Tim Gonzalez left their Puerto Rico home after three years. They spent the last week trying desperately to get off the island, which they described as a war zone.

"When I saw my home I don't even know if I had words to express the feeling I had," Veniez said. "It was just, 'What do you do from here?'"

Veniez, her 1-year-old one year old twins and Gonzalez, her fiance, rode out Hurricane Maria in a hotel. It was after the storm passed the real nightmare began.

"They had us cross the street in the middle of the storm and go to a shelter and then we were there for two nights," she said. "Then we got a letter saying at 6 a.m. you have to leave, and we went to another shelter it was full."

The couple said every day was a battle for survival.

"It was extremely scary. Driving past stores with people with masks and robbing and stealing. It's pouring rain outside and you're driving through 4-feet of water. It wasn't anything I want to go through again," Veniez said.

Veniez told me every day was a battle for survival.

"He stood in line for seven hours just to get the kids food and diapers," she said of Gonzalez.

They were able to get off the island. They consider themselves the fortunate ones.

"It's heart crushing," Gonzalez said. "Every turn you take is just another mission to get through the next day. It’s straight survival mode."

Veniez now hopes others in Puerto Rico can get the help they need.

"There are families out there and babies who don't have water or food or even shelter. It's going to be a struggle for a really long time," Veniez said.

The couple had eventually planned to move back to North Carolina at some point but the hurricane has prompted them to move sooner.


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