A Saint Martin woman is preparing for her first Ironman 70.3 World Championship, while her family is recovering from the damage of Hurricane Irma.

Nicole Erato says she was in Maine, training for Ironman when she got the news that Hurricane Irma was heading towards her home and family in Saint Martin. She says she was on the phone with her mom when the hurricane hit Wednesday morning. 
"It was basically her yelling at my dad telling him to stay away from the door; it was just blown in and they were losing all of their windows. Around 6 a.m. the phone cut off," said Erato. 

Erato spent the next 48 hours not knowing if her family survived, but a phone call from her mom Friday morning put her at ease.

"It was so so so nice to hear her voice; to have that confirmation that she really was okay," said Erato. "My family and everybody was supposed to be meeting me up here [Chattanooga], but they weren't able to leave because they had to stay home and take care of everything." 

Erato says her family is now preparing for more possible storms, but her mom told her they're also dealing with crime and looting. 

"She doesn't want me to worry because she wants me to be focused for the race so she's trying to tell me in nice words, but it's very dangerous," said Erato. 

This is Erato's first Ironman 70.3 World Championship. She recently competed in the Ironman 70.3 race in St.Croix. 

Her coach, Cayley Mackay, says they planned the entire year around this race. 

It's so much bigger than us at this point. it's about racing for an entire nation and just bringing some kind of small light to this unbelievable situation." 

Erato says she hasn't put much thought into the championship race.

But when the gun goes off, she says Saint Martin will fuel her to the finish line. 

"I finally found a new purpose. I have been feeling so helpless and I got stuck and I can't do anything and this is really really helping me feel good about being here and feeling like I can actually help my family and my country," said Erato. 

Erato plans to head to Saint Martin after she crosses the finish line. The Ironman Foundation surprised her Friday with $1,406 to help her get back home and help her family. 

You can help those in Saint Martin impacted by Hurricane Irma. Click, here.

Nicole Erato completed the Ironman 70.3 World Championship with a time of 5:36:57. 559th place out of almost 1500 athletes.