Couple returns to Paradise after weeks in quarantine

California Connection

(KTXL) — A husband and wife who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship were finally at home in Paradise Wednesday night after spending 21 days in quarantine. 

After what was supposed to be a relaxing cruise ship vacation turned into a three-week quarantine, Steven and Michele Smith were happy to finally be going home.

They made it through a week of isolation aboard the Grand Princess off the coast of Oakland and 14 days quarantined at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

“When we finally got on that bus to leave it’s like, ‘Praise the Lord, we’re out of here!’” Michele told FOX40. “And so that was great.”

More than 500 hours later, the Smiths were ready to start a new kind of seclusion in Northern California — but at least they will be home.

“I think it’s very important to keep a positive attitude. We were together 32, 33 days now, 24/7, and I still love him,” Michele said, laughing.

“We’re still married,” Steven said. “It was a bonding experience but we are glad it’s almost over and we’re so happy to be home.”

The Smiths moved to Paradise from Chico to help the people of Butte County rebuild their lives after losing so much in the 2018 Camp Fire.

They own a company called Ridge Builders and since the state considers construction to be essential work, the restoration of homes may continue even under a mandatory stay-at-home order.  

“There’s nothing more rewarding than what we’re doing right now for Paradise, nothing more rewarding,” Steven told FOX40. “It’s incredible to be part of the rebuild process and know we’re going to look back someday and go, ‘Wow, look what happened.’”

The couple is in the process of rebuilding eight homes in Paradise — some are set to be finished in May.

Throughout their time in quarantine, the Smiths said they have remained healthy and both tested negative for COVID-19.

Now that they are well-rested and ever thankful for their freedom, they said they want to make up for lost time by doing what they do best — picking up the pieces and, brick by brick, laying a sturdy foundation for a bright future. 

“Just love each other. Be good to each other,” Steven said. “We’re in this together and the only way we are going to get out of it is not by degrading each other or beating each other down but by lifting each other up, and then we’ll lift each other up out of this.”

The Smiths said because of the stay-at-home order they will not be reuniting with their family right away. But they were looking forward to finally seeing their pets.

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