Midlands couple says powerful Hurricane Irma tore through Saint Martin during their vacation

Midlands couple says powerful Hurricane Irma tore through Saint Martin during their vacation

IRMO, SC (WIS) - Hurricane Irma is sure to leave memories in the minds of many Americans but for one couple from Irmo, moments from the storm were especially terrifying.

Rivers Fennell and his girlfriend, Marilyn Black, were on the island of Saint Martin last week when Irma first churned off the Atlantic Ocean as a Category 5 hurricane.

"When you're actually there you start seeing how powerful these storms could be, the damage that can be done. It just tears everything up," Fennell, 44, said.

The couple was in the middle of their vacation on the island when they discovered Irma would directly hit it. After the two were unsuccessful in getting a flight out, they rode out the massive storm at the hotel resort where they were staying.

On the early morning of Sept. 6, 2017, Fennell and Black said that neither of them slept a wink. Water began to come under the doorway and through the windows of their room while the storm raged outside.

They and another couple they were staying with would take refuge in the room's bathroom after the roof began to shake.

"It probably was about 20 to 30 minutes we were running around there with the ceiling moving up and down. Then the eye hit so everything kind of went quiet," Fennell said of the experience.

After Irma passed the couple said it was, even more, eye opening to see the damage the storm left behind. In the days after the storm, their hotel had no power or running water. Several other hotels in the area were left completely destroyed.

"I can't even tell you how many times we said 'oh my gosh'…I mean it was just oh my gosh," Black said, "I mean you look at one thing and you think it's bad and then you walk down the street further and you see something even worse."

Eventually, the U.S. military was able to fly the couple and other Americans off the of the island to Puerto Rico. Fennell and Black were able to return to the Columbia area over the weekend.

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