The fearsome Category 5 storm blew out the supposedly hurricane-proof windows, turning the glass into razor-sharp shrapnel that opened a wide gash on her knee.
Then the 89-year-old woman and her caretaker settled in to wait for help, and conditions soon worsened.
…The Bahamian government sent hundreds of police and marines into the stricken islands, along with doctors, nurses and other health care workers. The U.S. Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and relief organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross joined the burgeoning effort to rush food and medicine to survivors and lift the most desperate people to safety by helicopter.
…At Cottis’ home, the two women heard helicopters overhead and cars driving past, but the weather and massive flooding prevented any assistance.
…Help finally arrived in the form of neighbor Ben Allen, a 40-year-old construction worker and maintenance man, who showed up with a minivan to take Cottis to get medical attention. Cottis …struggled to stand up and nearly fell over when the group tried to get her into the vehicle, which had a partially collapsed roof and was filled with wet cardboard.
…All of a sudden, Cartwright screamed, “That’s my son! That’s my son!”
She hustled out of the car and swept the 29-year-old marine welder and father of two into her arms as she cried. She had not known until that moment if he was alive.