Riverside Cal Fire firefighter returns home after braving Hurricane Irma in Caribbean

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Riverside Cal Fire firefighter returned home Thursday night after spending the last two weeks in Turks and Caicos during Hurricane Irma.

Joshua Livingston gave his sister Vikki Claveau a big hug outside of Los Angeles International Airport after his flight landed.

"It feels amazing to be back," he said.

What was supposed to be a seven-day trip in paradise for his birthday turned into a fortnight of struggle after Hurricane Irma laid waste to the Caribbean islands.

What followed after were scenes of devastation. Photos he took show a roof sitting in a hotel pool, a church ripped open, boats tossed around on land and a cell tower collapsed on a building.

"It's just as bad as the images show. Most of the island won't have power for months. No running water," he said.

We followed Livingston's plight, Skyping with him from his hotel room just before the storm hit as he stocked up on water, bread and peanut butter. The supplies got low as the days ticked by.

"It got low toward the end, but the resort took great care of us. They made sure we had food at all times," he said.

When the power went out, so did cellphone service. Livingston was cut off from communication. His family suffered through days of radio silence.

"It was literally like 5 o'clock in the morning, and I jumped out of bed frantic. But then he was like, 'it was me. I'm OK.' And I felt a lot better," Claveau said.

Livingston said he left Turks and Caicos with a heavy heart. He said he almost didn't want to leave after seeing so many people struggle out there. As a firefighter, he wanted to stay and help.

But at long last, he was back home Thursday for a long-awaited reunion, bringing with him memories of a trip he will never forget.

"I'll never forget the people. How everybody bonded after the hurricane hit. Everybody came together and really restored your faith in humanity," he said.
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