'We climbed into bathtub to ride out the hurricane'

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Hurricane Dorian survivor Drexel Bootle at Odyssey Airport. Photo: Donavan McIntosh

By RIEL MAJOR

Tribune Staff Reporter

rmajor@tribunemedia.net

DREXEL Bootle rode out Hurricane Dorian in the bathtub with his wife.

The Treasure Cay resident survived Hurricane Floyd, a Category 4 storm that devastated Abaco 20 years ago, but he told The Tribune that storm was “child’s play” compared with Hurricane Dorian.

Mr Bootle said he always told people he would never want to experience anything like Floyd again in his life.

“Seriously, in Floyd I had 40 inches of rain in my house; this time it was like seven feet of water. I have nine-feet ceilings in my house. About a foot or two from the ceiling the ocean came and knocked all my doors in, blew out windows... it was an experience,” he said.

Mr Bootle said the strong winds, with gusts over 200mph, ripped shutters off the windows.

“It was scary. At one point, the front end of the storm, when my wife told me it looked like water was coming in, I told her to get towels and I heard when she screamed. The doors upstairs blew so I ran from the front door, which was about to cave in, and on my way up (to) my master bedroom a door flew off and caught me (behind my neck) and knocked me down the steps. I was able to catch up with (my wife) and we went back (down) the stairs and that’s where we spent three hours holding on with everything I had. It was scary, we had no place to go. Everyone was affected in Treasure Cay. “

He added: “After the eye passed over, the roof was still on the house but there was plenty water outside. We went into the master bathroom and got into the bathtub and I had to get an office chair and a vanity chair to put over us with the sheets. There was... Sheetrock coming down and that’s where we spent that night...in pouring rain and with the wind blowing. It was scary. Something hit me, I don’t know what it was, but it hit me, had my lip split for a minute, so I see why you have to be careful in the storm.”

Mr Bootle said every time he thinks about the hurricane and his experience, he cries.

“One of my neighbours, a good of friend of mine, his mom drowned right in front of him. He also lost his arm trying to save his mom because she panicked. She ran out and he went out behind her and a plywood flew and... severed (his hand) right off. His mom fell down and drowned right in front of him,” he said.

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Lakia Thompson, centre, talking to The Tribune yesterday. Photo: Donavan McIntosh

Meanwhile, Marsh Harbour resident Lakia Thompson told The Tribune she had lost all of her belongings, but is thankful she survived.

Ms Thompson’s eyes filled with tears and her voice started to crack as she described the harrowing experience.

“During the storm, windows started breaking, the ceiling started falling, water was coming down the walls coming through the windows. I couldn’t get out, all I could hear was loud objects outside moving, winds sounding like the strength of 15 men; it was crazy,” she said.

“There was a lot of damage, everything is gone. The only thing I have left is in this garbage bag. Everything; I lost everything. I’m thankful for life, honestly, because I could have been dead, too. My mom is here, so hopefully I can start over,” she said.

Neil Bootle, a Murphy Town resident, said if someone had told him before the storm that Hurricane Dorian would turn out to be this catastrophic, he would have never believed it.

“It was disastrous. I had to run with my four children, my wife, and even took in someone else who couldn’t talk or hear. The whole house just tore apart. I had to run for my life. Thank God for next-door neighbours; I was able to run to their house,” he said.

“We lost everything. I’m grateful to have made it and I’m very sad for those who had lost their family and loved ones.”

A glossy-eyed Mr Bootle said he is sad to leave his Abaco home, not knowing when he’ll be able to return.