Bahamas family finds relief in Chattanooga following Hurricane Dorian devastation
Hurricane Dorian forced thousands of people to evacuate the Bahamas. Many of them are finding relief in the United States, including one family who is now calling Chattanooga home.
Roben Gabriel, his fiancée Julie Saintious, and their four-year-old daughter Aaliyah were home with their family when Hurricane Dorian hit paradise.
At first, Gabriel says they weren't worried since their home was on a hill.
“We're you know having fun and then a few minutes later I noticed the roof started to pop open,” he said.
As their home started to rip apart, Gabriel had a thought.
“I was like you know what I can't just stand here and just watch my family die so I had to go outside to get the van and they were non no you can’t go and I was like well if I don't go we all die.”
Despite his family's fear, Gabriel fought Hurricane Dorian's strong winds and heavy rain to get their van. One by one, he pulled his family inside.
“We were in the van watching the whole storm all kind of things flying around and I don't know what it was but something hit the back glass and so the whole glass shattered on us. Aaliyah got a cut on her lip and its healing now and that's when I was like I need to try to get them out this van now,” Gabriel said.
They eventually found shelter in a neighbor's home where they waited out the storm. Days later, Gabriel got in touch with a group from Chattanooga, who were on the Abaco islands delivering supplies.
“They were working on finding planes so they were like okay we have this plane that's dropping off supplies be at the airport and you can hop on,” Gabriel said. “They got us into Nassau and we were there for a few days and he said don't worry we're coming to pick you up and that's what he did. They came to pick us up.”
Their next stop was Chattanooga. With the help of the community, they live in a home on Signal Mountain. Their daughter Aaliyah is even enrolled into St Timothy's Episcopal Preschool.
“From the beginning it was rough for us but now it's just calm. We can actually see the light,” Saintious said.
Gabriel and his family plan to stay here for a year. Their goal is to get a work permit, but most importantly, they're working to help those back home.
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