Fisherman watched wife drown as Hurricane Dorian slammed Bahamas

Crab fisherman saved himself by swimming to nearby boat

By Thomas Metevia - Digital Content Producer

FREEPORT, Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian may have spared the Florida Coast but it was relentless on the islands in the Bahamas. 

Howard Armstrong told CNN he watched his wife get swept away as the two of them were trying to escape the rising flood waters.

Dorian stayed over the Bahamas for upwards of 36 hours with sustained gusts around 220 mph.

"We were doing all right until the water kept coming up. All the appliances were going around the house like a washer machine," said Armstrong, who is a crab fisherman.

His wife, Lynn, was standing on their cabinets in the kitchen, the only place where "your head would touch the roof," he said.

Only their heads were above the water, CNN reported.

After hours of waiting for rescue in the flooded house, Armstrong's wife slipped under the water.

"My poor little wife got hypothermia, and she was standing on top of the kitchen cabinets until they disintegrated." Armstrong said. "I kept with her and then she just drowned on me" 

Seven people have been killed on the Abaco Islands and many have been left homeless across the archipelago. Officials expect the death toll will rise after more accounts like Armstrong's.

"She was gone so quickly," Armstrong said as he waited for his wife's body to be recovered. He was unable to find her body, but is hopeful once the tides comes down, he will be able to recover her. 

Armstrong was able to escape the waters by swimming to a nearby boat that was anchored.

"I got out of the house after my wife drowned because you couldn't be there anymore and I didn't have any tools to chop a hole in the roof," Armstrong said. "I swam, I took a chance and swam out to it (the boat)"

Armstrong said he'd lived in Freeport for 58 years and had "battled many a hurricane," but had never seen flooding like this.

Dorian first hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm and then eventually slowed down to a Category 3.

The storm left catastrophic damage and people stranded in flooded areas on Abaco and the Grand Bahama islands.

"Everything I own is gone," Armstrong said. "Every single thing."

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