Relief and guilt of Dundee businessman who fled Hurricane Maria

© SuppliedDr Kirk and his wife and children are currently in Edinburgh.
Dr Kirk and his wife and children are currently in Edinburgh.

A Dundee ex-pat, who fled his adopted homeland on Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria was bearing down on it, says he has nothing left to return to.

Chiropractor Dr Nicky Kirk, 39, has lived with his wife, Michelle, and two sons, Matteo, five, and Luca, three, on the Caribbean island for the past eight years.

The former Harris Academy pupil has built a successful sports therapy business and still has many friends and relatives in the devastated US territory.

Dr Kirk and his family escaped shortly before the category five hurricane hit last week. They are now safe in Edinburgh but he said friends and in-laws, based just outside the island’s capital San Juan, are facing a daily struggle for survival.

Nearly half of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents are still without drinking water and officials are warning of a looming public health crisis.

© Getty
Hurricane Maria has left entire communities cut off.

Such was the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Maria Dr Kirk does not believe he will ever be able to return home.

He said: “There’s nothing to go back to, there’s no point in going back. It’s that bad.

“People have been taken back to the Middle Ages. There’s no infrastructure. People are going to the toilet in their back gardens and there are people in hospitals who are on life support who are dying because the power is going out.

“There are gangs roaming about with AK47s, robbing gas tanks — it’s lawless. I can’t take my family back to that environment. It’s not even on the table. I love Scotland, but I feel like a refugee in my own country.”

Dr Kirk’s family, friends and in-laws escaped harm during the storm and while he feels fortunate to have avoided the mayhem left behind by Hurricane Maria, he admits feeling some guilt at the challenges facing his Puerto Rican friends.

He said: “There is a sense of guilt. If we were over there, we would be stranded.

“People are queuing up for 12 hours just to get gasoline. It is sad. You think of the friends you made and the places you went to with the kids which have just been ripped up.

“But I don’t see how we can go back. Not with three-year-old and five-year-old children.

“It’s sad because of the way Puerto Rico is being treated so insignificantly by the US.”

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