Charleston woman stuck in St. Thomas after Hurricane Irma
A Charleston woman is stranded in St. Thomas and has no idea when she can return home.
Laura Bunnell says her sister Leslie is living with no running water or electricity right now, and transportation off the island is limited. She created a Go-Fund-Me account as a last effort to get her sister back to Charleston.
Leslie Bunnell has been traveling the streets of St. Thomas capturing cell phone video of the devastation from Irma. She shows flattened houses and bent power lines.
"They've pretty much lost everything. Half the people there don't have anything else left. Everybody that is a U.S. citizen has to move back. There's nothing left for them,” Laura Bunnell said.
Laura said her sister moved to St. Thomas in January in hopes of experiencing life away from home, but then Hurricane Irma barreled through the region and left he island devastated.
"She says it's the scariest thing she's ever gone through. She sat in her laundry room for eight hours with a few of their friend. ...They're living with no running water, no electricity and food's going bad," Laura said.
Leslie couldn't get out before the storm hit, because of skyrocketing airline ticket prices.
"The price for them to leave skyrocketed beforehand," Laura said. "It went from you could fly back on a one-way ticket for $100 to $5,000 right before the storm."
Now, there are different obstacles.
"They do have a ferry running from St. Thomas, but the ferry runs twice a day and it takes you to San Juan. But, if you miss your flight or it gets canceled, there's nowhere to stay in San Juan,” Laura said.
She says communication with her sister is limited. Cell service on most of the island has been wiped out. So, she started a Go-Fun-Me account to help.
"We're looking for someone with a big enough boat to go get her and her roommates and whatever luggage they have and at least get them to Puerto Rico or Florida to at least catch a plane a leave to come back to Charleston," Laura said.
In less than 24 hours, she's almost halfway to her $4,000 goal.
"People are amazing here. I mean, everybody who knows Leslie knows that she would do anything for them. So, I think they've come back and done that for her," Laura said.
While the community embraces her and her sister-- she waits.
"I want her to be back in Charleston, safe and sound and to be able to hug us. I want to be able to hug her,” Laura said.
Any money raised that doesn't go to helping Leslie’s return will go towards the relief of others on the Virgin Islands.