• Pastor, family rescued from the Bahamas by Jacksonville-area pilot

    By: Elizabeth Pace , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hurricane Dorian destroyed houses and wiped out neighborhoods in the Bahamas.

    Now, hundreds of thousands of people are trying to find refugee outside of the islands.

    One local pilot is helping families with free flights to Northeast Florida. 

    “You feel sorry for the people and then you feel bad at the same time,” Aleshastvilous Garry said. “Then you feel like close to death.”

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    A Bahamian pastor, his wife and their four children were in their Marsh Harbour home in Abaco Islands when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas.

    They watched their home and church get ravaged by the storm.

    They made it out alive, but know of several friends who died in the storms. 

    “When we inside the church and the roof gone again,” the pastor’s wife, Monique Garry said. “We have to run again, try to go somewhere.”

    Eventually they evacuated to Nassau, where they met St. Augustine pilot Steven Sipprell.

    “It’s a shell shock, a PTSD type of moment,” Sipprell said. “They lost everything, they went through a horrific storm. They’ve been living in horrific conditions for the last four or five days.”

    Sipprell told Action News Jax he flew his personal plane down to Nassau several times to deliver supplies.

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    He has helped a few families come to the United States as refugees.

    On his fifth trip, he picked up the Garrys. 

    “Now that they’ve been evacuated they’re just displaced and not sure where to go with their lives,” Sipprell said. “So we’re just trying to find select people we can bring up here and at least get them established for a little while.”

    Not only did Sipprell help Pastor John Garry and his family into the U.S. but he also opened his home until they can find other arraignments. 

    “I tell God thank you to be here today,” John Garry said. 

    According to a CNN report, there are about 70,000 people who have lost everything in the storm.

    About 17% of all Bahamians are suddenly homeless.

    Garry’s daughter told Action News Jax reporter Ryan Nelson she is thankful to now be in a safe place. 

    “It’s a relief from what we’ve been through, and now we can be somewhere where we feel actually safe,” John Garry said. 

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