EXCLUSIVE: Women stranded in St. Maarten during Irma say experience 'brought them closer together'

CeFaan Kim Image
Sunday, September 17, 2017
4 women trapped in St. Maarten during Hurricane Irma return home
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CeFaan Kim has the exclusive.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- For four Brooklyn women it was supposed to be a vacation to celebrate a decade of friendship. Friends since college, they headed to St. Maarten the Friday before Hurricane Irma hit - and boy, was their bond tested.

Stranded in St. Maarten as the powerful storm struck, it took four days after the hurricane rolled through before they found their way out.

"It was depressing. To see what we survived and to see what the locals have to live with," says Tricia Kwakwe.

The friends say seeing the devastation up close and person for several days was emotional.

"About 90-95 percent of the country had been leveled at that point and the surrounding areas, so again we're very lucky we got to come home, but these people had no escape," said Tiffany Bender.

"People have no access to shelter, no electricity, no running water, and so people were in desperate conditions, and that's what's most concerning," added Tiffany Poole.

Eventually the U.S. Air Force got the friends to Puerto Rico where they booked a commercial flight back home.

The four women say the experience brought them even closer together.