(CBS) – A Chicago area couple stranded in Cabo San Lucas for the past several days has arrived on U.S. soil and telling their story of post-hurricane survival.

Hoffman Estates firefighter Pat Fortunato and his wife, Nancy, were in Mexico along with several others when disaster struck. The group is only now trickling back home.

The Fortunatos described tense scenes as the Americans waited at their hotel.

“Other people, especially the firemen, slept in the hallways and they had made some makeshift weapons to protect us,” Nancy Fortunato says.

“It was difficult being on that opposite side,” her husband said. “Our job is to actually go and help the people when the crisis occurs, and we were sitting back feeling somewhat helpless.”

The group was able to get to the airport via six vans; they paid $30 per person for that ride.

They did not all get out on the same flight, though. Some of them first went to L.A., others to Arizona. All were expected back home Friday.