LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More than 3 million people in Puerto Rico are still without electricity, water and food, and the governor says the island is on the verge of disaster.
One Long Island couple knows the crisis first-hand. As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, they faced fear and frustration for days after getting engaged on the beach.
“Chaos, a nightmare, a living hell,” the couple told McLogan.
Greeted by emotional Levittown neighbors hours after they touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday night, Joseph Roman and fiancé Jenny Delpin shared images of their five harrowing days and nights in the streets of San Juan following the direct hit from Hurricane Maria.
“Trapped on this island, not by choice. It’s just a sad feeling that no one’s willing to help you,” Delpin told McLogan.
“No police, no military, no security, nobody there regulating what was going on. No electricity whatsoever, no cellphone service,” Roman added.
Their frantic families were unable to reach them.
The trip to Puerto Rico was planned well before Hurricane Maria. The senior Romans were celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary, while the junior Roman and his fiancé were celebrating a birthday and surprise marriage proposal.
When he got down on one knee, it was a tearful ‘yes.’ His happy parents flew back to New York, but he and Delpin’s plane got cancelled.
They returned to their Sheraton hotel and casino and took shelter in the lobby as Maria made landfall.
“Wind, trees falling down,” Delpin said. “The water is about like five feet high.”
The couple said when they tried to check back into their room, they were told, “We’re in hurricane mode. Only military are getting rooms right now.”
They said they were advised they could sleep on the curb just outside the hotel.
“To the manager I said, ‘So you’re telling me, I can go outside those doors that you guys zip-tied closed — I have to go outside those doors and sleep right there on the floor next to the hotel?’ And she said, ‘Perfectly fine, as long as you’re not in here,’” Roman said.
They tried to comfort one another.
“There’s people going around robbing stores, robbing people,” said Roman.
They also made treks to the airport, but they and thousands of others were told there were no available flights out.
“It’s 104 degrees, sleeping on the floor with their infant children,” Roman said.
Then, there was false hope that the hotel had a room, but it was back to bed on the sidewalk.
“I was at my end, I felt my eyes rolling back in my head, I couldn’t even stand,” said Roman, adding they had no water or food.
Roman comes from a military family and his parents are demanding answers from the U.S. government.
“Who’s going to help these people? My son was one of them. Who’s helping them?” his mother, Debra, said.
They fear for those still left behind.