Grandmother, grandchildren flee Puerto Rico for new life in Pasco County

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (WFLA) – Luz Alvira wipes the tears away as she watches the images from her homeland of Puerto Rico. Just a few days ago, she was there with her loved ones. On Sunday, she and three of her grandchildren made the trip to Tampa. 

Two of her grandkids are living with her in Zephyrhills, the third is staying with a relative in Orlando.

Leaving Puerto Rico was heartbreaking.

“It was very difficult. Leaving my daughters and my other grandkids. It’s terrible. Very difficult. I’m going to miss it,” Alvira said.

She’s now staying at her niece’s home. She described experiencing the hurricane hit.

“God forgive me. There was a monster that wanted to come into the houses and take everything, and even though we had wood panels, the windows would move and it wanted to break in.”

But as bad as the storm was, surviving turned out to be the real challenge. The devastation is everywhere.

“People who had their houses made out of wood, they were gone complete… Completely gone. And next day, people coming to their houses crying,” said Alvira. “They had nothing.”

Alvira says there are lines for gas, food and water.  Her daughters would wake up in the wee hours of the morning just to wait in line for the allotted two bags of ice.

She commends the relief efforts, but she says there’s only so much that can be done when bridges are gone and roads are washed out.

“And still, there are some people that are writing down [on their roofs] that ‘we’re hungry, we don’t have nothing to drink, we don’t have nothing to eat.'”

Her grandchildren, Julio and Yalimar Garcia, are adjusting as best as they can. Yalimar has enrolled in Zephyrhills High School and Julio, who’s 18-years-old, is currently looking for work.

Alvira is hopeful she can return to Puerto Rico one day, but in the meantime, is hoping her other relatives will join her in Florida.

“It’s a change that we need,” said Alvira. “‘Cause it’s not going to be established in Puerto Rico for a long time. A long time. It’s going to take quite a long time to be the Puerto Rico that it was.”

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