ABINGDON, VA - The Swanson family is living in Abingdon again, after spending the last few months in Puerto Rico during the deadly hurricanes.
Hurricane Maria hit the coast of Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, which is a night the Swanson family will never forget.
"The winds were just whirling it sounded like a really high-pitched snake hissing," Benjamin, the oldest of the six Swanson children, says.
All eight of them huddled in a storm closet as their home was battered by the hurricane.
"We knew that if the house didn't hold up, we could either end up in heaven," Stephanie Swanson says.
The family moved down in June for business, and only their home was damaged in the storm.
"Knocked down our playground so it was all over," 9-year-old Brian Swanson says. "Trees were everywhere."
The Swanson family has been able to make it back to Abingdon, and now they're trying to help the people who weren't able to get out. They're starting with their church, which still doesn't have electricity.
"People are still coming to the church but there is no air-conditioning," Stephanie says.
The Swanson family is trying to raise $2,000 to buy two temporary generators and ship them to Fort Pierce, Florida, where another agency is waiting to deliver them to Puerto Rico. Stephanie says generators in more southern states are extremely hard to find, which is why they recommend buying one in this region.
"For the church to operate, they need a 7,000 watt generator for temporary support," Stephanie says.
The Swanson family is hoping to get a 3,000 watt generator, and a 7,000 watt generator down to the church while it waits for a permanent generator to be shipped from a church in New Jersey. However, Stephanie says it won't arrive for months. That's why she says time is of the essence, so they can turn the lights back on in an area that's been dark for weeks.
If you'd like to help the Swanson family make a difference, either with a monetary donation, donating a generator, or helping with shipping, contact them via email at: VASwansons@gmail.com.