Local scuba divers stuck on Dominica set to return home after Hurricane Maria

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. - A group of more than 30 people from all across the United States, including around a dozen from Palm Beach County, were in Dominica to scuba dive when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island.

Sandra Brammeier, a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard and co-owner of Ocean Quest Scuba in Riviera Beach, is among the group on the island.


April Ortlip from North Palm Beach sent WPTV photos of the damage to the Fort Young Resort where the group is staying. She posted “the roof just blew off,” on the Sept. 18 on Facebook.

Their stay was extended after Hurricane Maria devastated the island Monday.

“I kind of wish (I) was there, but glad (I'm) not,” Jennifer Everett told WPTV on Thursday, who has been on many of these trips with the group over the years, but stayed home in Rochester, N.Y. this time. 

“I’m kind of getting messages of fear and frustration.  I think that they might be a little bit concerned at this point,” she said. 

Ocean Quest’s Facebook page reports the group on the trip has food and water, and electricity comes back at night. The challenge has been getting home to the United States.

“They had a couple options and they keep getting stopped, either by immigration or by the rough seas.  There’s a couple different factors playing into why they’re not getting out,” she said. 

Everett and others who stayed behind have tried to help.

“We've gotten together and pretty much just hammered whoever will pick up a phone, congressmen, any connection we can think of to try to get anything,” Everett said.

Everett says Wellington resident Mike Woods broke his leg when the roof of their hotel was ripped off and the wind knocked him over. He’s visited a paramedic twice since the injury.

“I think that first day, it might be a little bit of an adventure, just in your brain, and you’re thinking about it and then I think by now, 'Why hasn’t anyone come for us?'” said Everett. 

In a Facebook post to Ocean Quest’s Facebook page, at 10:19 p.m. Thursday, they report they will be evacuated Friday morning. It follows by saying “stay tuned.”

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