A local family is still shaken after losing contact with their 80-year-old mother in Puerto Rico while Hurricane Maria battered the island.
At Cano’s Puerto Rican restaurant in Panama City, owner Pete Reyes and his sister Olga are reliving a painful few weeks.
“She wanted to go spend her 80th birthday with her family in Puerto Rico,” said Olga Reyes.
Their mother, Manuella, left for Puerto Rico just a few days before Hurricane Maria hit.
“We were nervous,” said Reyes.
She was headed with her other daughter to a small mountain town called Aguasbuenas.
“Sometimes I say you cant even see it on the map because it’s so small!” said Reyes.
But then Hurricane Maria tore through the island.
“The videos, the reports…devastating. She lost contact, it was bad,” said Reyes.
For 10 days they heard nothing, even with Reyes using a radio app on her phone to try to get information.
“It was hard…sleepless nights listening to the radio,” said Reyes.
While hearing nothing from her mother, her already large family seemed to keep growing with concerned relatives.
“There were family members I didn’t even know I had!” said Reyes.
But then, some good news.
“She called me and said ‘hey we are safe we are in Atlanta, we are on our way home,” said Reyes.
Almost a month later and Manuella struggles to find the words to describe the fear and devastation she experienced.
“We tried to talk to her about it and she couldn’t,” said Reyes.
“She has a heart of gold. She would give you her shirt off her back, that’s my mother,” said Reyes.
The rest of the Reyes’s family in Puerto Rico is alright, but much of the island is still without power and water.