Jet skiers save 100 people stranded by Hurricane Dorian in Bahamas

Bahamas MGN.jpg
Groups and volunteers resorted to unconventional rescue vehicles to save the hundreds of people left stranded by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. (Photo: MGN)

Groups and volunteers resorted to unconventional rescue vehicles to save the hundreds of people left stranded by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.

Rescue groups and other volunteer rescuers used jet skis to navigate the floodwaters to save about 100 people on Tuesday, according to a Friday report from CNN.

Michael Pintard, the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources in the Bahamas, was one of those 100.

CNN reported that he and his family had been making calls for help as the flooding broke through windows and the door of their home in Freeport. Then, Pintard's wife heard jet ski engines outside their home and help arrived in the form of three people riding two jet skis. He and his wife grabbed their six-year-old daughter and rushed out to their rescuers.

"We thought it would pretty much be a routine ride out, but the waves were still pretty strong, and the wind was fairly high. We capsized ..., my wife and I, at least twice," Pintard told CNN on Friday. "My daughter capsized on a jet ski as well."

The jet skis had trouble carrying the combined weight of the three rescuers and the family of three. So, after capsizing twice, Pintard stayed behind and floated to a spot where he could stand until the jet skis returned to Pintard to grab him, according to CNN.

Jensen Burrows and d'Sean Smith, along with dozens of other jet-skiers, were able to rescue 100 people on Tuesday. Pintard had this to say about their work:

They did a phenomenal job, not just with us. What we saw when we came out is that they continued to go back in and over and over again.

Burrows and Smith, two friends who are a part of the GB Jet Ski Club, were the ones that rescued the minister. Jason Albury, the third rescuer, rode on one of their jet skis to help navigate them to the minister's house and assist them.

"The wind was pelting you, so it felt like rocks being pelted at you. I had his daughter and my friend, and the jet ski tipped over," Smith told CNN. "Jensen had the minister and his wife and Jensen also flipped over. He insisted we take the daughter and wife to safety first, so we did and came back for him."

According to CNN, Burrows and Smith tried to rescue Smith's cousin on Monday. The conditions were too rough to ride safely but they tried anyway. After a few failed attempts to ride, the pair made it to Pioneers Way on Monday - a street south of Grand Bahama Airport. The jet-skiers told CNN they saved dozens of people crying for help, including pregnant women and even a baby in a styrofoam cooler.

"On Monday, it was really just my two workers and Jensen, so four of us," Smith told CNN. "Tuesday was another effort that ballooned into something else."

Smith kept receiving messages from his high school friend who was sharing videos of the rising floodwaters in his home, and within an hour, the water flooded the first floor.

"I was concerned about them. I didn't want to know they died if I didn't try and help them," he told CNN. "That's the reason I went out in the first place."

After rescuing Pintard and another family, Smith was able to reach his friend's house on Tuesday. He had not heard from his friend since 10 p.m. on Monday and when he arrived the following morning, he screamed but no one appeared. Eventually, his friend emerged on the balcony and he was rescued, according to CNN.

The jet-skiers carried the 100 rescued people to Casuarina Bridge, the closest dry spot.

Other residents, volunteers and government workers came together to provide fuel, water and other supplies, along with helping pull others to safety and working to get people onto higher ground.

Grass and debris clogged the jet skis' intake valves and after two days of rescue missions, they began to run low on gas, according to CNN.

"The water conditions were so high, so we didn't know if we were riding over water or land. I was pretty much driving my jet ski into peoples' living rooms to rescue them," Burrows told CNN.

Pintard told CNN that he estimated about 150 people were saved on Tuesday, with many of those rescued by the jet skis and by other means, such as yachts and other private watercraft.

Hurricane Dorian claimed the lives of at least 43 people when it blew the Bahamas earlier this week. It has since turned north and begun its approach to Canada on Saturday.