MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas — Even the best laid plans were no match for Hurricane Dorian. At least not for Bahamians, like Jennifer Duncombe, who experienced the worst of the storm.
“What you see on the news is not actually what you experience,” Duncombe told Contact 5’s Merris Badcock Saturday afternoon, aboard a rescue flight to Florida.
RELATED: Jupiter family rescues 80 Bahamians from Dorian's aftermath, send over 14,000 pounds of supplies
Jennifer showed WPTV video of her home before the storm. “I wanted my family to know that I was safe,” she said, pointing out the boarded-up windows.
Hours later, Duncombe would lose the entire top floor of her home to Dorian’s 185 mph winds.
Duncombe, her daughter Robyn, and two sisters, Patricia Bullard and Natasha Ferguson, ran to a neighbor’s house as the eye passed over them.
“Her house was untouched during the first half,” Duncombe said. “When we got inside, [there were] was about 30 plus [people]. Neighbors ran in from left to right.”
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For the next four hours, Duncombe and 14 other people hid under a queen size mattress.
“The stronger ones were on the perimeter of the mattress, who held it down over our head.”
But shortly after Dorian’s winds picked back up, the safe house sheltering the neighborhood lost its roof.
“Stuff was coming in, the ceiling was breaking down the roof was off. That part was really scary,” said Duncombe.
She credits God and the sopping-wet, heavy mattress for saving her life. “When I saw the sun for the first time on Wednesday, it was amazing. I thank God that we are still here.”
Both Duncombe’s businesses, Colors by the Sea and Utopia Bar and Lounge, were also reduced to nothing.
“We left with clothes, just clothes on our back and our passports,” she said.
Duncombe was one of 80 people rescued by a Jupiter family, Nick and Nicholas Mastroianni.
“We’ve seen the footage. We’ve seen the videos on social media. I have not seen anything like I saw today,” said Nicholas Mastroianni.
The father-son duo have spent the last week chartering flights to send supplies and evacuate Bahamians. Saturday they joined one of the rescue trips to evaluate the area.
“I cannot complain about being tired, because people don’t have homes. They come back, and they have told me they put their child in the kitchen cabinet until the roof came off and the walls came down, and they ran through the water to the next place,” said Mastroianni.
On Monday, the family was back in the Bahamas rescuing more families, and they plan on doing this for as long as they can sponsor flights.
As for Duncombe, the hurricane brought the worst devastation to her neighborhood, but brought out the best in her neighbors. “I realized the people around me. I saw a lot of teamwork. It didn’t matter your color at the time. It didn’t matter your race or nationality.
“All you need to help is that one person. If one person helps one person, it goes a long way.”
The Mastroianni’s are accepting donations through the Mastroianni Family Foundation. You can drop off supplies at Harbourside Place in Jupiter, or donate online using this link. Check out the tweet below for a list of supplies requested.
Several Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast families are helping to rescue about 60 Bahamians today. They are also collecting donations for #HurricaneDorian Relief Efforts. You don’t need to be a medic or pilot to help. You can drop off items at @HarboursideFL in #Jupiter. @WPTV pic.twitter.com/5Jv41O4380— Merris Badcock (@MerrisBadcock) September 6, 2019