Family who survived Hurricane Irma now find themselves in Maria's path

Couple fled Hurricane Irma, but now face Maria
Couple fled Hurricane Irma, but now face Maria

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    Couple fled Hurricane Irma, but now face Maria

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Couple fled Hurricane Irma, but now face Maria 01:29

(CNN)Jessica Mangiaracina and Bob Perkins barely survived Hurricane Irma with their two children, and their nightmare isn't over yet.

When Category 5 Irma ravaged St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, they were forced to evacuate to Puerto Rico. They now find themselves facing another powerful storm, Maria, with almost no way out.
The hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph.
When Irma was bearing down on St. Thomas, the couple, with their children aged 7 and 9, had been getting ready for four days. But nothing could have prepared them for the impact of the storm.
    "It's like a war zone -- it's like waking up in the morning and an atomic bomb went off. I've never seen that except for on TV but that's what it looks like," said Perkins, who does Street View and virtual-reality tours for Google.
    They left their villa in a group of 13 people, using chainsaws to make their way through blocked roads. For six days, they looked for a way to flee the battered island and struggled to survive, even resorting to using a a slingshot to kill chickens for food. Looting and other crime were widespread, they say, and a lack of communication between police made it impossible to control.
    Finally, they found a catamaran company that agreed to ferry them to Puerto Rico.
    They chose that island over St. Croix because it had avoided a direct hit from Irma and therefore had more outbound flights scheduled. Upon arrival, though, the family couldn't afford the $1,500 per person being charged for a flight out.
    Since then, they have been stranded in the San Juan Civic Center with 1,236 others.
    Mangiaracina and Perkins weren't the only ones to leave the US Virgin Islands, only to move into the crosshairs of another storm.
    Hannah Jones experienced Hurricane Irma on St. John with her mother and son. They evacuated the island on a three-hour boat ride to Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
    "Everyone I know, every friend I have had to leave," she said. "We didn't get to say goodbye to them -- they were just gone on these boats."
    Hurricane Maria, which had earlier developed into a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 175 mph, is the first storm of this magnitude to ravage the US territory in more than 80 years.
    San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told CNN, "We are going to be hit hard but we are blessed that we have what it takes to move and push on. We will make it -- I have no doubt."
    At last count, the San Juan shelters had capacity to accommodate an additional 150 people, while the island's hospital has 89 beds left and four emergency wards to take in patients.
    For Mangiaracina and Perkins, the only plan now is to survive.
    "We know this one is going to be worse," says Mangiaracina.