Family lives through both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Family lives through both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Tortola damage (Source: Leena Salem) Tortola damage (Source: Leena Salem)
(WVUE) -

It's hard to imagine, but one family lived through Hurricane Harvey in Houston, only to fly to the British Virgin Islands a few days later and experience Hurricane Irma's wrath. Today, the Salem family says they’re lucky to be alive.

The images are breathtaking. Tortola in the British Virgin Islands is decimated.

“It’s basically like a dead town. There’s not one tree in sight, not one tree,” Leena Salem told FOX 8 via telephone.

Salem describes a harrowing scene as she and her family, including her young children, rode out Hurricane Irma in a relative's home.

“The last text message I sent my family, I said, 'I love you guys' and then my service just cut.”

High winds blew out every window. They feared they'd be sucked from the concrete structure.

“The couch flew across the room and it actually came to our benefit. My husband, his cousins and about four, five guys were all holding up a couch against the winds of Irma,” Salem said.

The family made it through the storm but the home they hunkered down in and their own home are badly damaged. Astonishingly, the Salems had just returned to the island from an almost month-long vacation in Houston, where they were caught by Hurricane Harvey. That means they lived through two major hurricanes in just a matter of days.

“It was very scary. Three out of the four of my brothers, the flooding actually came right up to their doorsteps,” Salem recalled.

Salem says she saw devastation in her Houston hometown she never thought she'd witness.

“Houses around them were badly flooded,” she said.

Today, Salem and her kids are back in Houston, staying with another relative who didn't take on water. Her husband remains on Tortola, guarding the family business against looters. She says she never could've predicted her family living through two major disasters in different countries within a matter of days. She believes it's a miracle they're still alive.

Salem also tells us the only way she and her kids were able to get off the island was through someone they hired to take them by boat to Puerto Rico. From there, they were able to secure a flight to Houston.

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