Sarasota, FL -- You’ve seen videos and photos of the destruction in Puerto Rico for six days now, but a Sarasota couple who just got one of the few flights off the island says it doesn’t begin to reflect the destruction and desperation unfolding there.
And now, Brooke Glasson and Joey Dangler say they’re making it their mission to get help for those they left behind.
“It was very sad, even leaving. I felt bad for every single person there,” said Glasson.
On Monday night, Glasson and her boyfriend, Joey Dangler, were among a handful of JetBlue customers to get the word they’d been waiting for. A flight out of Puerto Rico.
The couple had gone there to celebrate Brooke's 30th birthday.
They consider themselves fortunate, “But God bless these people,” said Dangler, “Because they're going to be dealing with this for a lot longer. We were lucky to be able to come back to life.”
Ironically, Glasson and Dangler had lost power at their house in Sarasota because of Hurricane Irma, so they decided to go ahead with their vacation plan and head to Puerto Rico - figuring they'd be far more comfortable there.
When Hurricane Maria slammed into the island, the couple had to leave their hotel, but a friend found them a safe place to ride out the ferocious storm.
“You know, I was lying next to a cement wall and you could feel the wall just banging,” said Glasson.
“We were one of three houses, I think, that had a roof left. And, that was horrible,” said Dangler.
The couple says the locals in Puerto Rico treated them like family, which made what they saw over the next few days that much more heartbreaking. A humanitarian disaster that they worry people here in the rest of the U.S. don't realize is unfolding.
“They're helpless,” said Glasson, “They are fending for their lives.”
No generators. No food. No water. People having to clear roads themselves to reach medical facilities.
“It's only getting worse from here because now you have to fight for your life, you know?” said Dangler.
Glasson’s home video shows the devastated neighborhood where she and Dangler rode out the storm.
The nearby beach community was leveled by Maria's winds. The airport images show thousands with nowhere else to go waiting to leave.
“If we wouldn't have gotten out, we would've been on the streets as well,” said Glasson, “Because our hotel was losing gasoline for the generator. And, they said everyone was out.”
The couple says help has been too slow to arrive in Puerto Rico.
In the days after the storm, they saw only one ambulance, long lines at stores, and no gas.
People are afraid to run their generators, they say, for fear someone will steal it.
The scope of the destruction and desperation, they say, goes beyond news reports.
“You know, all these people are homeless, and there's not one thing on the media about that island. It makes me sick,” said Glasson.
Which is why she and Dangler say now that they’re home, they're making it their mission to share their story with as many people as they can.
“You know, we were the ones that were lucky enough to be able to get out. But the locals are the ones, the people who deserve it,” said Dangler. “They’re stuck there, devastated. And, it's going to be hell come back from that.”
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