The devastation in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian in early September continues to resonate almost two months later. In our contest of Most Compelling Stories, the story of Howard Armstrong it is unquestionably our winner.
His friends, Jorge and Debbie, shared the unbelievable news about their friend. Howard and his wife, Lynn were in the direct path of Hurricane Dorian near Freeport. Tragically, Lynn did not survive the storm. It is assumed she was swept away by the storm surge and drowned. Only days ago, Howard was faced with the unthinkable task of having to identify her body after it was recovered weeks after the storm.
Jorge and Debbie pick up the story.
Near Freeport, where the damage was greatest, the Armstrongs, Howard and Lynn, were holed up in their home. The water was coming in and they were attempting to protect whatever they could by putting items on top of cabinets, countertops, the stove, and whatever else was above the level of the water. Their pets as well were floating on mattresses. But when the 200 MPH winds begin ravaging the area, things changed dramatically.
Howard actually swam outside for only a moment to see if there was a way to escape the surge, perhaps there was someone outside to help. However, the storm was too powerful so he swam back inside. Sadly, in that brief instant, Lynn was gone. Apparently overcome by the raging waters. After realizing he may have been next, Howard managed to get to his nearby fishing boat and climbed aboard. A small cuddy cabin was his lifeline, and remains so today. Nearly all of his personal belongings are gone with the exception of his small boat, which sustained significant damage, and a cell phone — his only link to the outside world.
Howard’s story was shared worldwide on CNN. Gigi Stetler watched that very report and understood immediately how her Most Compelling Story Contest would now shift.
“This contest really became something beyond what was originally intended,” the RV Advisor’s Founder and CEO, Gigi Stetler said. “You get lots of stories why people feel they should win an RV. And some really hit home, but after learning of Howard’s situation, the story on CNN, the loss of his wife, then speaking with him personally, the choice was obvious.”
Though Howard Armstrong is the winner, getting the RV to him directly presents some challenges. The obvious transportation of the vehicle is one thing, but a lot of what has been sent to the Bahamas to help people has not been getting to the right people. Reports of looters, seizing supplies has sadly become commonplace.
“That’s happening under my watch,” a defiant Stetler added. “No way. This man is getting his RV. After everything he’s been through to have him not get it is unthinkable.”