Local family flees Puerto Rico hours before Hurricane Irma, relieved that storm spared island

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A local family fled Puerto Rico hours before Hurricane Irma was set to strike.

The Rivera’s were scrambling to find flights, because the airport was shutting down operations on the same day they were set to leave.

The family who says it was difficult to leave loved ones behind, knowing the Category 5 hurricane was inching towards the island.

Millions of people are still without power and thousands don’t have access to clean water.

However, Puerto Rico was spared the worst of Irma’s wrath, when the storm veered north.

“We were praying and obviously the prayers were answered,” said Fernando Rivera, Senior.

The hurricane warning came late Monday and the family had to make a decision, either stay or go.

Flights were limited and it was unsettling to think they may be stuck.

“Not so much the danger of the storm. It was more of the how bad are the roads going to be afterwards,” Fernando Rivera Junior told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

Fernando Rivera Senior says supplies and gas were running low, but he knew they could make it through the storm without a stockpile of canned food.

“You know we got plenty of stuff that grows in the ground, bananas stuff like that, that we eat. We can survive with stuff like that also.” He said.

The Rivera’s say when they landed in Atlanta it was a relief, but they still feared for their family back in Puerto Rico.

“Was it hard leaving that family behind?” Asked NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“Oh yeah, of course, I have a brother, nephew and nieces. It was,” Fernando Rivera Senior told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

70 mile per hour winds were recorded, ripping large trees from the ground, taking down street lights and house shields as the storm passed by.

As rivers continue to rise, flooding remains the biggest threat.

Still, the worst is behind “La Isla del Encanto.”

“1989 was George, I believe, is the one that actually went over through the island. That was only a Category 3 but the damage that, that did was really bad. So a Category 5 going over the island would have been a lot of damage,” said Fernando Rivera, Jr.

The Rivera’s say they were able to contact their family and everyone is safe.

3 people, in Puerto Rico, were killed as a result of the storm.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6. to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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