Woman evacuates St. Maarten on military plane after Irma

Source: Anita Mondulick
Source: Anita Mondulick
Source: Anita Mondulick
Source: Anita Mondulick
Source: Anita Mondulick
Source: Anita Mondulick

(WAFB) - A vacation in paradise turned into a nightmare for a Zachary, Louisiana woman and her friend from Kentucky.

With Hurricane Irma churning in the Atlantic, Anita Mondulick from Zachary thought it was time to pull the plug on her planned St. Maarten vacation. Her friend Susan Phelps, from Calvert City, had other plans.

"I had tried to talk her out of going on the vacation, she said I'm going without you," Mondulick remembered. "And I'm like you're not going by yourself, you've never been through a hurricane."

Little did Susan know, her first tropical cyclone would be a Category 5 storm.

For hours, Irma pounded the island as the eye passed just overhead, turning St. Maarten into a disaster zone.

Mondulick and Phelps rode out the storm in their hotel room.

"We stayed in the bathtub from seven in the morning till 1 o'clock," Mondulick said.

The winds knocked out windows in their hotel and sent furniture flying.

"It blew refrigerators through the walls into the hallways," Phelps said.

When the winds finally died down, communication became difficult. Curfews were put in place. Confusion became the name of the game.

"The prime minister said, 'Do not go to the airport. The military will come to your resort to pick you up,'" Phelps recalled.

Back at home in the states, families of those stranded on the island – including Mondulick's daughter-in-law – became nervous. A Facebook group emerged, allowing families to share news and updates about conditions on the ground.

Mondulick's family saw on the Facebook group that the U.S. military was apparently doing evacuations to Puerto Rico. They tried to convince Mondulick and Phelps to get to the airport. Eventually, the duo chose to ignore the curfew, getting in line behind hundreds of other tourists to board the plane off St. Maarten.

"Everybody cheered when we took off, everybody cheered when we landed," Mondulick said.

Now safely in San Juan, the duo said that if they were given a do-over, they would have thought twice about their trip to the Caribbean.

"I had never been thru a hurricane being from Kentucky and its something I never ever want to experience again," Phelps said.

Mondulick and Phelps could get a flight home as early as Thursday.

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