PEMBERVILLE, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Terri Leary and her family are glad to be home in Pemberville after surviving Hurricane Irma.
"It's not so much the paradise that everybody knows and loves," said Leary. "It literally looks like a war zone."
Leary and her family moved to the U.S. Virgin Island two years ago chasing a dream of owning a boutique. Their island of just over 4,000 people is now in ruins after being hit hard by Irma.
"We thought we would prepare the best we can, take care of the house, take care of the business and it would just be a hurricane and be done," said Leary. "That just wasn't how it ended."
Leary says family hunkered down for the massive storm in their home. She says it wasn't long before the destructive wind and rain blew out her windows.
"For hours and hours we had wind and rain circling inside the house," said Leary.
Through it all, Terri's daughter Tiffany was back in ohio worried sick about her family.
"It was nerve-wracking not knowing if they were OK or if they needed anything, you know, just medically or if they were hurt," said Tiffany Leslie.
Once the storm passed, Leary says her home was surrounded by total destruction.
"There were roofs in the roads. There were pieces of buildings missing," said Leary. "I mean, it truly, truly looked just like a bomb went off and just exploded the whole island."
To make matters worse, she struggled with spotty phone service to contact her loved ones and let them know she was alive.
"You just had a moment to make a call, say what you had to say and you lost your call," said Leary.
After days of being stranded, she and her family finally escaped the hurricane-ravaged island and made it back to Ohio.
"Getting them in the car and realizing that they're home was the best feeling," said Leslie.
While she plans to return to the island, Leary says her focus now is on her family and recovering from the stressful time.
"It's all repairable," said Leary. "We just need some time to heal ourselves and get better."