BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County woman, and native Bahamian, has spent the duration of Hurricane Dorian updating social media and checking in with family members who live on Grand Bahama Island.
Hurricane Dorian was stalled in the northern Bahamas for more than 24 hours. Damage is widespread.
“I’ve literally been on my knees just thanking God,” said Jontelle Gibson, who lives in Bartow, through tears. “I am so grateful to God for preserving my family.”
Gibson left her hometown of Freeport when she went to college but her parents, grandmother and several siblings remain there.
“I’m not going through it. But at the same time, I am because those are my people,” she said.
Late Tuesday morning, somebody answered her brother Roscoe’s phone for the first time. He was the only family member she hadn’t spoken to.
“Last check, he was ok. Freeport’s getting beat bad but he’s ok,” said the man who answered the phone.
With that, Gibson breathed a sigh of relief.
“I am just so happy just to hear, because he’s so loving. He’s so tender. I’m just excited to know that he’s good,” she said.
Gibson believes the Bahamian people will persevere with grit and selflessness.
But, she said, the people who welcome cruise ships and other vacationers every day, will need help.
“I hope that these people choose to give back to the people that blessed them if they were just even there for a day. I just hope that’s what’s in the hearts of people that you’re willing to give back to the people that gave to you,” she said.
Her other brother, Adrian Bethel, told 8 On Your Side the Bahamian people are stepping up for each other already.
“We are here. We’re resilient. We’re surviving and we’re going to recover,” he said on the phone from Grand Bahama Island.
He helped a woman and her child get to safety surrounded by floodwaters.
“This city is half-flooded. I thank God the roofs are still intact for the most part but basically everything is just flooded,” he said.
“He’s the type of person that he loves his family, he loves kind of taking care of his own,” said Gibson. “To see him to step out of that and just be looking out for other people. I’m just so grateful that he would be willing to do that but that’s just who we are.”