WILTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A Maine mom returned from visiting Puerto Rico as part of a trip to deliver supplies to the people there affected by Hurricane Maria in memory of her late son.
Deb Roberts is the mother of Michael Holland, who was a crew member aboard the cargo ship El Faro, which sank during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015. All 33 crew members, including Roberts' son, Holland, died.
The ship, and Holland, frequently traveled back and forth between Jacksonville, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The ship was on its way there when it was battered by the hurricane.
During the first week of December, Roberts collected supplies for the people of Puerto Rico in her son's honor. She got them transported to the island, and then traveled there in late December to hand deliver the items.
"It was a sea of blue tarps. Every other home – the roof was covered in blue tarps," Roberts said of her view of San Juan from the airplane headed to land at the airport.
On the ground, she said there were many beautiful places on the island, but also destruction.
"Trees lay over for miles –wires everywhere – and no electrical trucks in sight yet," said Roberts.
Roberts said being able to see the island her son visited so many times was emotional.
"Getting to see, through my eyes, what he had seen and why he loved the island so much and then to help the people of the island he loved was really meaningful," said Roberts.
"What an amazing opportunity to go to the terminal and open up our container of supplies here in Puerto Rico and make the first of many deliveries," Roberts wrote on Facebook. "The first stop was Hogar Casa Feliz (Happy Place) which is a home for the elderly. We were welcomed by the owner, staff, and residents. To see their smiles and gratitude for the relief supplies was absolutely priceless!"
She also got to see a lighthouse memorial to the 33 El Faro crew members, including her son, who died when the ship sank. There is a matching lighthouse in Jacksonville, Florida.
"It was really sweet but it was really emotional. It's very personal to see Mike's name on the lighthouse. It was an emotional moment. A very fulfilling moment," said Roberts. "It's what helps me get through day in and day out -- to come to grips and deal with the fact that I've lost Mike and I'm not going to have him again. Doing things in his memory and honoring his legacy is just – it's my job for the rest of my life, so everything I can do to fulfill that is a fulfilling moment for me."