SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A year ago this week, passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship started arriving at MCAS Miramar for a two-week quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak on the ship.
Before arriving here, the passengers were stuck on the ship off of the coast of California for days after 21 people tested positive for COVID-19.
At the time, little was known about the virus that would soon change so many lives. ABC 10News first met Michele and Steven Smith on March 11, 2020, via Skype.
The Paradise, Calif., couple was part of the group of passengers quarantined.
“What started off to be a 15-day enjoyable Hawaiian cruise turned into a five-week fiasco,” said Steven, now a full year since talking with ABC 10News.
Still, the couple made the most of their time cooped up in a room together.
“We’re both very positive people,” said Michele. “I think the closeness of our marriage was probably my most favorite part.”
On March 25, 2020, they were finally able to head back home. They recorded a video outside of MCAS Miramar, Steven Smith saying, “I’m looking forward to getting back to work and getting Paradise rebuilt.”
Rebuilding houses in Paradise has been the couple’s ultimate goal since returning home. A year before they moved to Paradise, the deadly Camp Fire tore through the community in 2018, taking lives and leveling homes.
“Being in construction up here in Paradise, we were essential, so we got to work every day. So our year looks significantly different than people who might be in a big city,” said Steven.
He is a contractor and co-owner of Ridge Builders; Michele is the administrative assistant. They worked to give this community a second chance, and throughout the pandemic, they were able to build about seven or eight homes.
“It’s been an absolutely rewarding experience to be part of building people’s homes that’ve been destroyed in the fire,” said Steven.
“They’ve become family,” added Michele.
The couple has survived the last year with positivity and looking at the bright side, and while their lives haven’t changed much, they hope everyone can soon get back to a sense of normalcy.
“We need to be kind, we need to be nice to one another, and we can get through this. We really can,” Steven said.
The two say they are looking forward to eventually going on another cruise.