By Rick Sallinger

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Hurricane Dorian’s rampage through the Bahamas last week damaged or destroyed most of the homes on the Abaco islands. A couple from Colorado was trapped there for three days during the height of the storm. They saw firsthand how lives were destroyed, and now they’re trying to help two native Bahamians rebuild theirs.

hurricane dorian survivors

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Amy and Jerry Colman and their friends AJ McIntosh and Chante Basden. (credit: CBS)

Amy and Jerry Colman had been to the Bahamas many times on mission trips. They went there this time around to visit friends. They knew a hurricane was coming, but Bahamians assured them they would be able to get through the storm without serious problems. They never expected Dorian would be a hurricane like the people there had never seen before, or that they’d be bringing two of those friends back home with them.

The Colmans initially had the idea that they would try to ride out the hurricane in a small house. Bedding may have saved their lives.

“We put a mattress over our heads and we were like ‘Okay, we’re going to ride it out,’ and then we just hear the house just start shredding. I mean, we hear metal flying, cars flying, pieces of the house ripping off,” Jerry said.

They took refuge in the laundry room.

“It was terrifying, hearing the sound, thinking that one of the couches may come flying through the wall,” said Amy.

When the eye of the slow-moving hurricane came through, they ran out of the house and to a church, where they stayed for the rest of the storm. The second half of Dorian was even worse. They had taken refuge in the sanctuary, where those gathered took turns saying prayers.

When the winds finally died down they emerged and snapped photographs of the destruction, including a bus flattened by 220 mph winds and boats tossed from water to the land.

Hurricane Dorian Damage

(credit: Colman Family)

Hurricane Dorian Damage

(credit: Colman Family)

Hurricane Dorian Damage

(credit: Colman Family)

The Colmans were visiting friends AJ McIntosh and Chante Basden on Abaco. The group made their way to the Marsh Harbour Airport, but were told only those who were pregnant, injured or children would be allowed on planes departing. They then drove through floodwaters to a makeshift airstrip that they said had been used in the past for running drugs.

hurricane dorian flooding

(credit: Colman Family)

After waiting for hours, they got out on a plane chartered by an acquaintance. They first flew to another island, then to Fort Lauderdale and then on to Colorado.

And now they have now brought McIntosh and Basden to the United States and to their home in Fort Collins. Basden said they are now trying to “sit down and see how to pick up the pieces.”

hurricane dorian survivors

(credit: CBS)

“Abaco left us with nothing,” she said.

The hurricane killed least 50 people and hundreds are listed as missing.

“Knowing the amount of people that died (is tough),” McIntosh said. “I had so many of my friends that just seeing photos of them saying that they passed away in the storm or were swept away by a storm surge…”

McIntosh works in high tech and Basden is a baker and both already have U.S. visas, but McIntosh said, “The last thing I want is to be something another country doesn’t need me to be.”

For now, with little more than the clothes they wore, they’re happy just to be alive. They are hoping their future includes settling down in Colorado.

Rick Sallinger


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