Action News local journalist first on the ground in Puerto Rico as Coast Guard evacuates families

Posted at 6:38 PM, Sep 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-25 21:35:03-04

The US Coast Guard went to Puerto Rico with supplies and left with families.

RELATED: Anchor Paul LaGrone flew with the US Coast Guard to deliver supplies to Puerto Rico

Military families, with children, from all over the country are trying to escape the island in darkness after Hurricane Maria.

Inside hanger number two at the Borinquen Airport, hell and hope go by the same name.

"Before the hurricane it was paradise, now it's been reduced in some degree to a third world country," said Jack Gutheridge, a grandfather who's leaving Puerto Rico with his two small grandkids.

Puerto Rico has been home for these military families, but home is now unlivable.

For Johanna Heering, it's even more personal. She's from Puerto Rico, but for the sake of her children, she and her husband are fleeing to Florida onboard the Coast Guard C-130. She's leaving her father behind and it hurts.

"You have to make decisions that you don't want to. My Dad is in San Juan. I have family staying back here, but I don't want him to lose his school year so I have to go and leave everything behind," she said.

Herbert Silio is a teacher. He was about to see his 8-year-old son leave on that C-130 bound for Clearwater and then head to Miami to live with family. But Herbert is staying behind because his students need him.

"It was the best thing to get them out of harms way first," he said.