ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – An Ormond Beach woman said she's grateful to be alive after she and her loved ones huddled in a bathroom for 17 hours as Hurricane Dorian hovered over the Bahamas.
Maggie Rende has a home on the island and said she stayed to ride out the storm, not knowing things would end so tragically.
"I truly feel that it’s God’s grace that we survived," Rende said.
For 17 hours, Rende said she, her godmother and more of her friends from the island prayed, sang Christian songs and relied on their faith as the storm destroyed everything in its path. The bathroom was spared, even though every other room in their home was demolished.
"The roof started lifting and then the whole house started falling apart around us," Rende said. "We couldn’t go outside at that point. So seven of us ran to the bathroom and held the door shut."
Rende said the storm seemed like it lasted forever.
"We had to try to hold on to each other to try to get out of a house that had fallen apart around us," she said.
Rende and her husband live in Ormond Beach, but they call the Bahamas their second home. They’ve had a home on Abaco Island for 15 years.
She said she wishes she could do more to help her godmother and the people of the Bahamas.
"It doesn’t matter if you’re one of them or not. If you’re there, they take care of you. They step up and do what’s needed, and I know that’s what they’re doing. I just feel guilty that I’m not there to help," Rende said.
She started a GoFundMe account to help her Bahamian family members rebuild their homes. If you'd like to help, click here.