For almost a month, the Herrelson-Card family has lived in hurricane-ravaged islands in the Caribbean. Monday, the family of four landed at St. Louis Lambert.
Whitney Herrelson, who grew up near Osage Beach, moved to St. John eight years ago after she fell in love with the island’s weather and “laid-back vibe.” She and her husband Jarrod Card have two sons, ages four and two.
Last month, when Hurricane Irma hit St. John, Jarrod was on another island. Whitney rode out the storm with her two boys. They had no running water or electricity, and could not connect with Jarrod or family in Missouri.
“It took me five days to hear their voices and know they were alive,” Jarrod said.
Whitney had stocked up on food and water, but they were running out. She struggled to find a way off the island.
“We couldn't get out for six days,” Whitney said. “No power, no water. We didn't see any Red Cross, no FEMA.”
Whitney discovered the owners of a charter boat company had been ferrying people off St. John. Whitney and her boys were able to get seats. They met up with Jarrod in Puerto Rico.
Then, Hurricane Maria hit.
“We woke up in the aftermath the next day and there were trees down and roofs off all over the place,” Jarrod said.
The family had found shelter from a stranger who offered her home on Airbnb.
“The people were incredible, the way they came together to help us and help each other when Hurricane Maria came through,” Jarrod said.
It took several more days to get a flight out of San Juan. The family wants others to know people in St. John, American citizens, are still suffering.
“People are still in a lot of need,” Jarrod said.
The restaurant and bar where Whitney and Jarrod work have been destroyed and they do not know what their home looks like.
For now, they will stay with family in Osage Beach, where Whitney grew up.
“Everything is just stuff. Everybody's here and safe; that's what really matters,” Jarrod said.