'God, let it stop': Ottawa man caught in Dorian shares story of survival
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:39PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 11, 2019 5:18PM EDT
An Ottawa doctor is sharing his story of survival in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Dr. Denis Dudley and his wife Dr. Sharyn Laughlin were vacationing with their friends Christine and Doug Wyatt in Abaco when Dorian hit over the Labour Day weekend as a category 5 storm.
“I would hear my wife praying, ‘God let it stop,’” said Dudley.
“You do realize the power of mother nature.”
Dudley grew up in Jamaica and has experience with hurricanes, but says this was a storm with a strength he has never seen before.
It’s a catastrophe of enormous proportions,” said Dudley.
“It’s like a bomb, like Hiroshima.”
CTV news previously interviewed Dudley’s daughter Kristin after the couple had not been heard from in more than 48 hours after Dorian hit.
Kristin Dudley says the couples tried to leave when news Dorian was intensifying.
"We tried getting them a charter out, but authorities had closed the airports,” said Kristin Dudley.
“We weren't able to get them out."
Dudley finally found a satellite phone and made contact with family after more than three days.
“I got to get off the island and I have to let my children know that I’m alive.”
Dudley said their hurricane-proof home ultimately saved their lives, but there is not much left.
“[Dorian] kept pounding and pounding, it was like a freight train for 20 hours,” said Dudley.
“All we heard the house was shaking.”
The group took refuge in the attic, biding their time until they could secure a flight out.
Once the waters began to recede, Dudley left his largely destroyed home, and headed towards the community centre.
"A nurse grabbed me and said we have injured people we need help," said Dudley.
"I said to the nurse ‘where is this, where’s that, I need sutures, local anesthetic,’ and she said she had nothing, maybe one bottle of anesthetic, one IV and some tubing."
Dudley treated more than 50 people who suffered lacerations and wounds, the most serious being a man who lost his arm.
But the former Civic hospital doctor does not want to be called a hero. He says a retired U.S. coast guard form Chicago, Christopher Roach, is the real hero.
"He flew in before the storm deliberately," said Dudley.
"He had U.S. coast guard choppers in and out, he's still there I bet you, he's the hero."
When CTV asked if he was ever scared, when the storm was making landfall, he said he was only focused on his family back in Canada.
"I've led a full life and if anything had happened to me then my only regret would have been my children."
After two days of helping the injured, Dudley received word there was a potential flight out. Four seats became available on a charter jet, but with much of the Bahamas underwater, a safe landing was uncertain.
“If they don’t let us land then we have to come back and i think that would be the final straw,” said Dudley.
“Five minutes from Nassau the co-pilot that could see my wife gave us thumbs up so we figured we got clearance.”
Dudley says the scale of destruction is nearly impossible to describe.
“When you look at the drones and air photographs, they don’t tell you how bad it is, it's when you walk,” said Dudley.
“It’s going to take years and years and i think it will require an international effort.”
He left behind his Treasure Cay home, but he’s more concerned for Abaco.
“Forget my house, I have something I can come back to,” said Dudley.
“What matters now is the recovery.”