Virginia Task Force 2 returns from Puerto Rico

Posted at 11:19 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 23:32:21-04

PUERTO RICO - The devastation is widespread.

Puerto Rico -- having taken a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. Virginia Beach firefighter Michael Barakey was there when the storm hit.

"We arrived two days before the storm hit so after weathering the storm on Wednesday we went to work and then search and rescue operations began the next morning," said Barakey.

Barakey is a member of Virginia Task Force 2 -- a search and rescue team based in Hampton Roads. Just days after returning from the Caribbean to help places devastated by Hurricane Irma, the team was back down for Maria.

While wind damage was more noticeable following Irma, Barakey says he saw more flooding with Maria.

"We found a lot of flooded homes. 450 homes that were flooded in the Teo Baja region which is west of San Juan," said Barakey.

Barakey says they also spent time in the mountains on the west side of the island -- providing life-saving work throughout the U.S. territory.

"It's very grateful American citizens down there in Puerto Rico. They were grateful to see us. Every interaction we had with either the locals on the streets or with their government officials were all very positive," said Barakey.

Friday, as the mayor of San Juan and others say Puerto Rico hasn't gotten nearly enough support, Barakey says he's confident they will.

"It's tough but I know the system is coming together."