Colorado family returns home from Puerto Rico after powerful earthquake

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DENVER -- A picture-perfect trip on the island of Puerto Rico took a terrifying turn for one Colorado family. They were on the southern city of Salinas when an earthquake struck Tuesday morning.

“It was about 4:20 a.m. I was in the shower. I was just getting out and all of a sudden the light went (out) and then you can hear the house just moving,” recalled Evelyn Cartagena-Meyer. She was born and raised on the island but now calls Denver home.

“I ran out the house! Run out of the house, with my towel, screaming at my kids and my husband to run out of the house,” she said.

There was no major damage to her parents' home, and no one in her family was hurt. But nearby, the damage was widespread. Images show collapsed buildings, crushed cars and highways blocked by rocks.

Cartagena-Meyer’s family made it to the airport that day and landed in Denver hours later.

She felt torn.

“I’m all about helping and here I am leaving!” she said.

Cartagena-Meyer saw the devastation Hurricane Maria left behind in 2017. She says parts of the island is still recovering. She’s worried about the potential for more powerful quakes and although rare in Puerto Rico, she’s also afraid a tsunami could hit.

“My parents live on the coast. Not on the beach. But if a tsunami happens, I think it would reach their home,” she said.

FOX31 and Channel 2 interviewed Cartagena-Meyer two years ago after she raised money to donate and deliver solar-powered lanterns to Puerto Rico. She used one of the lanterns she donated to her mom on Tuesday after the power went out.

As of Thursday, 2/3 of island remained without power.

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