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Hurricane brings Danville father and daughter together once again

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

October 05. 2017 11:51PM
Elbi Alba holds a picture of his daughter, Jennifer, who will leave Puerto Rico next week and join him in New Hampshire. (Jason Schreiber/Correspondent)



DANVILLE — Hurricane Maria was devastating for the residents of Puerto Rico, but Elbi Alba says that for him it was a blessing in disguise.

The 54-year-old Danville man will be reunited with the daughter he’s seen only twice in the past 23 years and will meet some of his grandchildren for the first time when they flee Puerto Rico and arrive in New Hampshire next week to start a new life. “It’s like a new beginning for me, too,” said Alba, who spent his day off from work Thursday preparing their Hemlock Drive home for the Oct. 12 arrival of his daughter, Jennifer, 28, and her daughters Yarielix, 5, Leeah, 4, and Mikaela, 2.

Alba’s daughter and her children are among the many hurricane victims struggling in the aftermath of the recent storm that caused extensive damage and plunged the entire island into darkness.

With the long recovery ahead, Alba and his fiancee, Diane Rogers, expressed concern about their future in Puerto Rico and decided to offer their home in Danville as a refuge.

Alba’s daughter took them up on the offer and is now packing up what few belongings they can carry with them on their flight.

“We tried to get them on the first flight out that we could,” Rogers said.

Jennifer and her three youngest daughters will stay in Danville while her oldest daughter, who’s 10, will live with other family in Massachusetts. Alba said Jennifer’s husband died of a heart condition about eight months ago at the age of 28.

For Alba, his daughter’s arrival offers a fresh start for a family that became separated so many years ago.

Alba was born in the Dominican Republic but moved to the United States when he was 7. He spent most of his life in Massachusetts, but has lived in New Hampshire for the past 15 years.

Alba said he and Jennifer grew apart after he and his wife separated and she moved to Puerto Rico. He said his daughter was 5 at the time. She’s grown up there. Alba said he saw her twice since she was 5 — once when he attended her high school graduation and a second time nearly 10 years ago when she came to visit him for a few days.

Alba said that for about 12 years he didn’t know where his daughter was living in Puerto Rico.

He and Rogers are now scrambling to get clothing donations and other necessities before they arrive. The town is helping with some donations and the nonprofit Annie’s Angels Memorial Fund issued a plea this week for three car seats for the children.

While there’s still a lot of work to do, Alba said he’s just looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect.

“I want to be the father that I wasn’t. Distance just made it hard. I’m ecstatic that I’m going to be reunited with my daughter,” said Alba, who works full time as a vendor for Nabisco.

Alba isn’t sure how long his daughter and grandchildren will stay with him, but said he hopes they decide to remain in New Hampshire. His daughter plans to get a job here once she finds a vehicle and her children will enroll at Danville Elementary School.

“I feel that for the future they’ll be better off in New Hampshire,” he said.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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