PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After waiting for hours in an airport that had no power due to Hurricane Maria, those escaping the devastation in Puerto Rico touched down at the Philadelphia International Airport on Friday night.
“I felt like we were going to die,” said Angela Rivera, who landed on one of the first flights from Puerto Rico after the hurricane devastated the island with drenching rains and winds of over 150 miles per hour.
Rivera describes utter destruction on the island. She says she flew to Puerto Rico a week ago for a vacation and spent three days in peace before the storm.
“We were told by the NOAA, there were no storms down in the Caribbean – that was how fast it developed,” she said. “[The hotel manager] evacuated us into a ballroom. The walls were shaking, the chandelier was shaking, the floor was shaking; then they moved us into a stairwell where for eight hours, 20 people were in a room the size of a bathroom and the wind just sounded like a freight train.”
Rivera praised those in Puerto Rico who helped her and many others to safety in a time of complete chaos.
“Everything is down. They have no power, no water. They have nothing,” she said. “And whatever they had they were willing to share with each and every one of us. They are wonderful people.”
Mayra Soto and her children waited at the Puerto Rico Airport for hours due to a flight delay.
She says power is down across the entire territory, forcing the airport to verify each person, bag, and ticket by hand.
“We survived something that we never imagined,” Soto said.
And while their feet are on the ground in the Delaware Valley, their hearts remain with their home territory.
“The island, it’s devastating what Maria has done,” said Angie Soroeta, who brought her two daughters from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia on a business trip. “I wasn’t going to leave them there. 100% of the island is without power. Almost no water. We need your help – we need everybody’s help in rebuilding the island.”
In all, there were four flights scheduled between the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico and the Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday, but all of them have been canceled.