A D.C. family who lost everything during Hurricane Irma is safe, and back in the area. Getting back here however, wasn’t easy.
Jennifer Stephens Cooper and her family left D.C. in June for the Virgin Islands.
"What more beautiful place to retire than the Virgin Islands? That was our motivation, this is where we wanted to live out the rest of our days," said Cooper.
She took a job as a nurse at a hospital in St. Thomas and her husband Joel Cooper retired from the military. One month after moving in, Hurricane Irma made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, destroying everything they had.
“It looked like a bomb went off on the island. Every single tree was snapped in half. There was no green left,” said Joel Cooper.
They were able to take a ferry to Puerto Rico, only to discover Hurricane Maria was heading their way. They barely made it out before the storm, but managed to book seats on the last flight out of Puerto Rico. Now they want everyone to know how much help the people in the Virgin Islands need.
“We wanted to do this interview to draw attention to the people in St. Thomas. They need everyone’s help. They are a U.S. Territory, part of the United States and they deserve the help just as much as any other portion of the mainland,” said Joel Cooper.
Cooper and her family plan to move back to D.C. for the time being. It's likely the hospital she worked for will take a few years to get up and running again. Once it does, she plans to return to St. Thomas.