'Our loved ones are out there': Travelers arrive at Orlando airport from Puerto Rico, sad to leave family behind

A Puerto Rican flag sits in a pile of rubble after a 6.4 earthquake hit just south of the island on January 7, 2020 in Guánica, Puerto Rico. ( Eric Rojas )

Airport officials said flights from Puerto Rico to Central Florida are sold out for the next several days.

Thousands on the island are in need of shelter following the two earthquakes that damaged homes and buildings. Geologists said this was the strongest earthquake to hit Puerto Rico since 1918.

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For travelers coming into the Orlando International Airport from San Juan, they said this was the first earthquake they ever felt.

“It was a little terrifying for us because I’ve never felt one before,” Samuel Ortiz said. “So it was really early in the morning, so everyone just woke up and outside there was no power.”

“It was a pa-pa-pa-pa-pa!” Ariana Kercado said. “All the decorations on the walls – they all went on the floor. I got anxiety and started to cry and then we all went outside and my family was outside crying.”

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“Everybody is so nervous,” Yamilys Perez said. “Like the gas stations are at capacity. There’s nothing left in the grocery stores. Like people are just getting ready for whatever can happen at any minute."

For these travelers, they are returning home to Central Florida after spending time with family over the holidays. A scheduled flight that couldn’t have come at a more delicate time.

“It’s horrible,” Perez said. “It’s a horrible feeling. It’s really sad. Like we know that our loved ones are out there and we’re here. And it’s so sad.”

“It’s hard because my family is there and I feel sorry for them because I know from Maria it’s been a long time,” Kercado said.

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Recovery and reconstruction has been slow. This earthquake is the latest blow to an island where thousands have been living under blue tarps since Hurricane Maria.

“My house is ok, but my family’s house – some of them they’re not good,” Kercado said. “They fell and they don’t have a place to stay right now.”

It’s a situation thousands of Puerto Ricans are now facing after the island territory was rocked and tremors continue.

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“The only thing is to pray right now,” Ortiz said.

Tune in to FOX 35 News at 5 and 6 p.m. for more about their stories and the latest in Puerto Rico.