“We’re running for our life,” said Michelle Juarbe, 29. The young woman was at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport with her 6-year-old son and her boyfriend, José Carrion. The couple was waiting for a flight out of Puerto Rico.
“There’s help coming, but it’s not being felt in the streets yet. For us, it’s not safe,” the young woman told the New York Times.
The couple had traveled from Isabela, a municipality on the northwestern coast. The area is far from the seat of government in San Juan. Far from the influence of power, the looting was bad enough to she feared for the safety of her and her young son.
“They’re robbing houses, and they’re robbing where people live,” she said. “Once we got into the gate, I was finally able to calm down, because I knew we were leaving.”
The New York Times says the airport is usually a place of joy—full of people leaving for vacations and reuniting with family.
“Since Hurricane Maria, however, the airport, the Caribbean’s busiest, has been a place of concentrated anxiety, with limited power and services and no air-conditioning,” writes the Times.
The anxiety is heightened by the fact that flights out have been scarce. On Tuesday afternoon, the Times says more than 24 people camped out at the ticket counter, desperately trying to get off the island to the U.S. mainland.
One woman and her three teenage daughters had been trying to get out for three days. They family, who live in North Carolina, visited because they hadn’t seen their grandfather in seven years.
Also in their airport were a couple looking for a new start. Dianny Betancourt and his wife, Mirelys Ocasio, told the Times that they’re leaving to start a new life.
The couple, both 33, along with their 2-year-old daughter, isn’t sure where they’ll end up. They do know that they probably won’t return to Puerto Rico. Their house on the island had been destroyed by wind and falling trees.
“I love my island,” said Ocasio said, “but we need a future.”
Just as people are struggling to get off the island, people are also pushing to get in. On Tuesday, a flight landed with more than 200 people.
One man, Gilberto Gonzalez, 31, a chef who lives in Orlando, returned to the island to repair his grandparents’ roof. He told the Times that despite the hurricane, he was excited to be back.
“The island is going to come back better,” he said. “We’re going to rebuild it, stronger.”
Pray for Puerto Rico as they deal with the fallout of Hurricane Maria. The media coverage may have fallen off, but people in the islands are still suffering. In other hurricane news, a famous singer just used his private jet to transport cancer patients from Puerto Rico to the mainland.