Caribbean families separate to rebuild lives after storm
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — The shrieks of children playing volleyball and the occasional barking of dogs echoed inside Puerto Rico’s largest convention center, transformed into a shelter for hurricane victims from other Caribbean islands as hundreds of families devastated by the Category 5 storm transition toward new lives. For many, that included tearful good-byes as they leave behind children with friends or family on the U.S. mainland, where they can go to school while their parents return to jobs on the islands and try to rebuild their lives.
Puerto Rico has received more than 2,000 U.S. citizens who were living or vacationing in islands battered by Hurricane Irma last week, including more than 500 who arrived via cruise ship on Thursday.
Many live in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and were heading from San Juan to the U.S. mainland to leave their children with relatives and then go back home to resume work so they can keep providing for their loved ones.
“I’m going to miss you, and you’re going to miss me too, but this is what it’s going to be for now,” Josette Cooper, a 43-yearold school teacher, recalled telling her young son after they arrived in Puerto Rico.
Cots are set up in a convention center transformed into a shelter for victims of Hurricane Irma on Thursday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.