ST. THOMAS, VIRGIN ISLANDS - 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 retired from the military.
One month after moving in, Hurricane Irma made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, destroying everything they had.
"I don't think anything could have prepared us for what Irma actually was. I kept thinking this isn't too bad until the eye wall hit at about 2 p.m. We were looking out the window and our roof flew off and landed on our car," said Cooper.
Cooper and her family had known their neighbors for just two weeks, but they took her and her family in during the storm. Cooper says without them, she doesn't know if she would be alive.
The only thing Irma left untouched in Cooper's home was a decorative sign that says 'family."
"I think that pretty much sums up the entire storm for us. We lost everything but our family is safe and our friends are safe and that's really all that matters," she said.
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.
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