Puerto Rico Native Takes Refuge In The Valley

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PHARR------Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, many of the residents continue to suffer.

Some are opting to go stateside in order to get away from the destruction.

Emmanuel Illas, a native of the island, said he is spending the holidays here with family.

Back in September, we told you of business owner Brian Illas in Pharr who was originally from Puerto Rico. Once Hurricane Maria hit the island he worried for his family's safety.

Now he is reunited with his brother who is looking to escape the devastation.

"There was no food, there was no gas, there was no water, there was not enough food in the stores. It was really sad," said Emmanuel Illas. who recently arrived in the Valley.

Illas braved the devastating hurricane on the very island where he was born and raised. These days, he said Puerto Rico is hardly recognizable.

"It was a strong hurricane, it tore through the area. The winds tore through light posts and houses, it pushed cars," said Illas as he described the storm.

Along with the destruction and loss of his job, Illas said it was just too much to bear.

"We need more help. We need supplies," said Illas.

In desperation to get away from it all, he turned to his brother who lives in the Valley.

"I'm happy, very happy he's here now. I haven't seen him in a while and I'm really thankful to God for taking care of him. It's hard to imagine all the struggles he's been through," said Brian Illas, who owns a barbershop in Pharr.
With phone lines down and service scarce, Emmanuel and Brian Illas kept in touch using social media.
"At first I was worried there would be no communication at all. It was difficult but here we are. We are going to make it through this with God's help and we're going to get out of this," said Emmanuel Illas. 
For now, he plans to spend the holidays here in the Valley before they both go back and continue rebuilding together.
Emmanuel Illas said he knows many people from the island who, like him, lost their job.
He said many are choosing to go to the states in search of work while the recovery processes continue.


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