CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hurricane Irma’s destruction has created a new class of refugees.
Storm victims who lost almost everything and now have no place to call home are traveling the country until they can find a place to grow roots.
Steve and Leslie McKibben landed in Richmond this week after the hurricane whipped through the Virgin Islands.
Steve describes what St. John looked like after Irma roared through.
“Power lines down, power poles, snapped trees on the road, roofs gone, boats washed up to the shore,” he says.
The couple hunkered down during the hurricane with two other families and their pets.
It was intense both outside and inside the home.
“We would tend to break down,” explains Leslie, “We would be like this is happening and we might not make it through this.”
When the skies cleared, the McKibbens say there was no power and just one spot on the island with cell service. That was a problem because their family in the states had no idea if they were ok.
“We didn’t want them to think we were dead and in that kind of storm, it was definitely a possibility” adds Leslie.
They finally got off the island just a couple of days ago. First, the couple hopped on a supply boat to Puerto Rico and then boarded a charter flight that brought them and their dog Patches to Richmond.
They plan to stay with family and friends until its feasible to return to St. John. The island might not have power fully restored for six months.
Steve emphasizes how important it is that people don’t forget the challenges victims face to rebuild.
“In two months when they’re not on the news every day, there’s probably still going to be help needed,” he says, “And we’d like to be able to find a way to have people remember that.”
You can help victims in the Virgin Islands by donating to the Virgin Islands Relief Fund.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.