By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBS11) – In October, Ivis Perez and her husband Benjamin Robles left behind their home of 18 years in Puerto Rico and started their new life together in Dallas.

“Well, it’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs,” says Ivis.

At times, Benjamin says it’s been overwhelming. “I talked to my mom, I talked to friends, they told me don’t give up, keep your chin uup, keep trying cause you’re going to be ok. That’s what kept me going. My wife too, she kept me going.”

screen shot 2017 12 22 at 5 21 34 pm Couple Spending First Christmas In DFW After Evacuating Puerto Rico

Benjamin Robles and Ivis Perez – Hurricane Maria evacuees who moved to North Texas (CBS11)

Hurricane Maria, a Category 4, was the worst natural disaster on record to hit the U.S. territory.

Ivis remembers riding out the storm in their house. “It was a four story building and you could feel the house shaking as the Hurricane was hitting us.”

While their home survived the storm and flooding, their auto-parts business dried up.

Ivis says, “We didn’t have any phones. We couldn’t get gas. Everything was against us. That’s what I felt. And I told him, you know what, I’m leaving. I have to do something for us. And he said, if you go, I go.”

Benjamin says, “We had to do something. It was either stay or go. But something had to be done because we’re not going to make it.”

The couple says they came to North Texas because they heard the job opportunities would be good here. Sure enough, after several weeks, Benjamin found a job at Bailey’s furniture store in southwest Dallas.

His wife found a job even faster.

One day after getting off the plane, Ivis found a job at a Conn’s store in Dallas.

She and her husband are grateful for what they have, but for now, life is still not complete.

Pointing to a photo on her cell phone, Ivis says, “These are my babies and how much I love them, how much I miss them.”

Their two children are still in Puerto Rico.

Their 21-year-old son is a junior in college, and their 24-year-old daughter wouldn’t leave her brother behind and is working.

Ivis says, ‘To me, it’s not going to be Christmas, it’s just going to be another day. When I get them back with me, then I’ll say we’ll have our Christmas the way we used to. Sometimes my daughter calls me and says mommy, I dreamt of you and I cried. She doesn’t know I’m crying on the other side.”

But this couple of nearly 27 years say they know they must stay strong. “I can’t teach them to quit. I have to teach them to keep on going”, Ivis says.

They say both of their children hope to join them in a year and a half after their son graduates college.

For now, they don’t plan to return to Puerto Rico anytime soon because they say it’s too painful.

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