GREEN TURTLE CAY, BAHAMAS — “I will never ever put myself in that position again,” Darla Clement said. She’s one of over 300 people who rode out Hurricane Dorian on Green Turtle Cay.
Clement survived Hurricanes Andrew and Harvey, so she boarded up, thinking her experience could help her neighbors; however, she admitted, “I think we underestimated the storm completely.”.
Darla and two Haitian friends bunkered down in a two-story home with a cement foundation, but an over 185 mph powerhouse was headed their way.
“And then like 5’o’clock, the doors blew in, the roof came down, the microwave caught on fire and a light blew,” Darla said recalling the chaos.
She and her two friends shuffled into a crawl space under the stairwell. “We were like on top of each other, and the floor was flooding.”
Darla said it didn’t stop there. A bed dropped from the second story, blocking the door, which was their only exit. “First we were taking turns holding it because the wind was so strong,” she remembered. “It kept pulling it open, and then we were opposite, right. We were trying to get out.”
Darla and her companions decided they couldn’t stay there, so they tied themselves together and made a 100-yard dash to a nearby restaurant. Darla recalled the building was already partially underwater.
“So we had to go around to the opposite side with debris blowing everywhere.”
On the way, Darla stepped on a rusty nail and got tetanus. All three stayed in a bathroom for the remainder of the storm.
“We’d go to do a task and then you would forget what you were doing because you were so overwhelmed with everything, and when you would look around you the devastation was so incredible that you couldn’t emotionally take it”–Darla Clement, survived Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
When Dorian let up, Darla says her first thoughts were not on getting back to the states but on helping the others around her. “We all kind of took turns leading…People started coming to me saying the supplies in town had already been taken, and they nothing. They had children. They had little kids who needed fresh water.”
After four days of sleeping on the ground next to a toilet, Darla’s sister, Angie Zartler, flew in to rescue her. It was the quickest Zartler could manage since Dorian hovered over the Bahamas for a day and a half.
“It’s this twisted grateful humble guilt,” Clement said about her current feelings. Her thoughts often drifting to those who don’t have another home to go to.
“I can see them on the dock when I close my eyes,” Darla says. “She was crying, telling me how much they love me, and I’m leaving.”
Clement is flying from Florida to Texas Saturday to meet her husband and children. She says she waited the two days to regain control of her emotions.
Friday, a boatload of supplies arrived at the island where Darla was living since March.
Clement wanted to recognize all the people, companies, and especially her sister Angie and brother-in-law Bill who are organizing relief. She says without their contributions, she doesn’t know where the people on Green Turtle Cay would be today.