A month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, just 23 percent of the island’s power has been restored. Telecommunication services have also been slow to get back up and running making it very difficult to get in touch with residents—especially those in more remote areas. A Hartford, Connecticut dad learned this the hard way, when, in the days after the storm, he reached out to anyone and everyone he could think of in an effort to get an update about his family on the island. Guillermo Class, whose two teenage sons live with their mother in Puerto Rico, finally took to social media to plead for any information that would lead him to his boys.
“I’m Guillermo Class, and I’m asking anyone that knows Joemar Class and William Class, I’m trying to get in touch with them,” Class said in a Facebook video posted on September 22. “If anyone knows anything about them, if anyone has talked to them, seen them… There hasn’t been any communication and I’m very worried.”
It took a couple of weeks, but Class was finally able to confirm that his sons were, thankfully, alive. While he was relieved to know they were okay, he was stunned by the squalor they were living in. Without power, food, or clean water, Class said he “couldn’t believe” the conditions.
“It’s still really, really bad,” he said to WTIC-TV in an interview.
Class told WNPR that he hadn’t seen his children in about five years, but he was determined to them back to the U.S. mainland where they would have a safe place to live and go to school. Currently unemployed and recovering from open heart surgery, Class decided selling his 2003 Jeep Liberty was the best way to raise the money needed for plane tickets. He listed the car on OfferUp for $2,500 and ended up accepting a $1,700 offer.
“I sold my truck because it’s what you gotta do. I gotta get my kids out of there until Puerto Rico gets back on its feet,” Class said in a Facebook video posted before he turned in his old license plates in to the DMV. “If you have family out there you gotta do what you gotta do, you got something you don’t need, sell it, get your family out.”
After flying to San Juan to meet Joemar and Willy, the family returned home to Hartford on Monday. The Miami Herald reported that the boys’ mother remained in Puerto Rico to care for her father, who was injured during the storm.
“I was scared,” Joemar told WTIC-TV of the aftermath of the storm. “I thought I was going to die. I was thinking about my father… but thank God we are here.”
The young men told WNPR that they are grateful for the opportunity to return to school, play baseball, and have a better life. Ultimately, Class is just happy to have his family under one roof.
“I feel good, now that I see them,” he said. They are doing what they can [in Puerto Rico], but they still need more.”