SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Jason Harris and DJ Gregory thought they were escaping for a dream vacation to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but ended up being dead center in the path of Hurricane Irma. After finally being able to get back to Utah they’re now worried about those in the path of Hurricane Maria.
The couple’s vacation was only supposed to be 10 days, but they ended up having to stay two weeks before they could get a flight back.
Irma was only a category 3 when they started their trip, and weren’t sure where it would make landfall. The two weren’t overly worried because many locals say they’re used to category 3 storms.
“I saw that Irma was out there but it was this little dot this little tropical whatever, and we really didn’t think anything of it to be honest,” said Jason.
DJ said it wasn’t until they were moved to a safer hotel room, and the Irma was upgraded to category five that they realized how bad things could get. The worst of the storm went right over them.
“The entire wall eye just hit us all the way from front to back,” said DJ. “We didn’t have any reprieve.”
Jason said the winds were so bad it kept changing the pressure in their hotel room.
“With the wind coming out and getting pushed out of the room it was weird like ears popping the whole time.”
The couple said when the storm was at it’s worst it caused what they described as conditions similar to white out conditions in Utah.
“It was literally just a wall of water rushing right past our room, right in front of us,” said DJ.
While their resort on the island withstood much of the storm without serious issues, they said the residents had it much worse.
“There were power lines down, there was shrapnel everywhere,” said Jason. “I mean seriously it just looked like a war zone out there.”
After four days they said people began to loot for supplies on parts of the island and their resort took them and other guests by boat to Puerto Rico. The couple said the damage their was minimal on their part fo the island.
With Hurricane Maria on the way towards Puerto Rico and now being listed as a category 5 storm. they worry about the locals who helped them now being back in harms way.
“To me it’s heartbreaking because all of those folks there try to make my experience special and they all have homes there and they could be gone,” said Jason. “For us being a tourist we just fly away.”