LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Cell phone video shows the embrace from his three-year-old daughter Eric Cheng waited 84 days for and it's also the calm after the storm.
"It's really a tough thing to see. When you are first out on the ground because the damage is everywhere," he described.
Cheng works for the Louisville District of the Army Corps of Engineers. He flew to the US Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma left her mark. He was part of a team in charge of clearing debris on the islands of St. Thomas and St. John.
He stayed as Hurricane Maria moved through, wiping out much of the island's vegetation. "It is rather unsettling to see that much damage everywhere. But at the same time, as the days go by, it is also that much more rewarding and I guess inspiring to see that being cleaned up day by day," Cheng told WHAS11.
Cheng says the clean-up efforts are taking shape and will likely continue well into the new year. He was given aerial views of the damage by helicopter.
Navigating the roads with downed power lines was a serious challenge and concern. "Getting around is not easy and it will never be easy out there," he said.
Cheng spent nearly three months working with his Louisville team and FEMA on the islands. He expects the Army Corps will remain in the Caribbean for six months and some of them forgoing celebrating Christmas with family.
"These guys and girls, they are really sacrificing a lot being away for the holidays and honestly their work is just fantastic," he said with a smile.