Cruise ship carries thousands of hurricane evacuees to Fort Lauderdale

Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

But for those who were able to leave the island, the relief of an escape is mingled with guilt.

Marta Collazo, who reunited with daughter Wanda Collazo at the port Tuesday morning, left behind two sons, grandchildren and other family in San Juan.

"I have two sons still there ... and they are having a hard time. It looks like an atomic bomb fell there -- it's destroyed," Marta Collazo said. "But when I saw (my daughter) it was like my heart was going to come out of my chest."

Wanda Collazo spent a week frantically trying to reach her family following the passage of Maria, even sending messages to her brothers about a possible cruise ship evacuation for their 78-year-old mother. By a stroke of luck, a WhatsApp message finally went through and the three siblings arranged Marta Collazo's evacuation on Adventure of the Seas.

Marta Collazo said she'll stay in South Florida a short time until Puerto Rico has power and water again, then she'll go home. Until then, she looks forward to reuniting with family -- and a nice Puerto Rican "pernil," or pork shoulder.

"I ate too much sausage (on the ship)," she said -- her only complaint.

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