Americans Trapped in British Virgin Islands After Hurricane Irma Rescued by Helicopter
This article originally appeared on People.com.
Kerman Haynes, 40, and 32-year-old Andrew Burruss were on a romantic vacation before they became stranded in Tortola for five days in the wake of the massive storm. Now, Haynes’ sister, Karen Haynes, has good news.
“They made it out!” Karen tells PEOPLE of the couple. “On a helicopter to San Juan as we speak.”
Karen and other family members back in the U.S. were frantically searching for help using social media and keeping track of the men using their GPS coordinates from their cell phone signal and Google maps.
A friend of a friend knew a helicopter pilot and helped arrange for a rescue. It took all day Sunday to get clearance for the Monday morning rescue, Karen tells PEOPLE.
“It’s pure relief — I’ve not talked to him yet — he sent a text earlier that said they’re in Puerto Rico, they were in a hotel room, they’ve showered, they’ve been fed and they’re going to take a nap and when they wake up they’ll call — they’re good!” Karen says.
But they are concerned for others in the area — Americans who still need rescuing and locals who are in need of aid.
She tells PEOPLE, “There’s still a lot of people there who need help.”
Kerman Haynes, a real estate broker and Andrew Burruss, a software salesman, were wrapping up a two-week trip to the British Virgin Islands when the eye of the storm moved over Little Apple Bay where they were staying.
The hotel suffered major damage and had no supplies, so the couple decided to hike 11 miles to Tortola in hopes of finding a way home.
“They had to move because it wasn’t safe where they were staying,” Karen previously told PEOPLE. “There was looting and locals were getting violent because of a shortage of supplies. Andrew and Kerman only have one gallon of water left between them.”
Friends of Haynes and Burruss — both from Atlanta — shared desperate Facebook posts trying to get the pair out of Tortola, the capital.
The couple managed to get a helicopter to San Juan after days of scrimmaging for food and shelter in Tortola.
Burruss told PEOPLE via text message, “There is almost no aid on the ground here and we are almost out of food and water. The devastation is unimaginable as it was more like a thirty-three hour tornado then a hurricane.”
On Sunday night, he wrote on Facebook: “There is almost no aid on the ground here and we are almost out of food (uncooked ramen, cookies, peanut butter) and water.”
Early Monday morning, the couple’s fate was still uncertain.
“It’s a nail biter right now but hoping to have good news to share soon,” she said.