Austin man brings family to safety after Hurricane Dorian

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AUSTIN, Texas — For four days, Stephen Russell frantically tried to get a response from his wife, Simone, who lives in Freeport, Bahamas. 

She was stuck there with their four-year-old daughter, Skylar, as Hurricane Dorian hit.

“We had planned on them moving here but in December,” Russell said. “I had no response. So I started to get worried because normally it doesn’t take that long.”

The storm ravaged the islands as a Category 5 and left most of the country in shambles. Russell said he’s never experienced anything like this. 

“How strong it got really quick. It was unsuspected. It was really just caught him off guard how strong it was,” Russell said. “Half of the island is underwater right now. People can’t get anywhere. People can’t get aid.”


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Once he started to see pictures of the destruction in Abaco, Bahamas, his anxiety got worse. 

“I blame myself. I got complacent because I was thinking, ‘Hey, they’re used to this.’ They’ll be okay because she’s dealt with hurricanes before, but I started to get worried because I started to see the news reports how the hurricane wasn’t moving,” Russell said.

Austin Man Brings Family to Safety After Dorian

Mari Salazar

He finally reached Simone on Thursday and her and Skylar were on a boat on the way to Florida as of Friday afternoon.

“They’re drained. They’re emotionally drained. Tired. My wife’s been upset, crying. They were shook. The wind, how powerful it was out there. She was really shook behind it,” Russell said. “A lot of their family members, they haven’t got in contact with. There’s a lot of people that’s missing. That’s not being reported. There’s a lot of people missing they’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”


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Russell’s driving to West Palm Beach, FL to pick them up. He said it’s 19 hours away by car, but it’s worth it. 

“First I said, ‘I love you and thank God you’re okay.’ That was the first thing I told her,” Russell said.


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