FGCU student reaches family in the Bahamas after 2 days

Desperate moments for a local Florida Gulf Coast University student after losing touch with her family for two days.

As Brianna Ritchie focuses on her studies, another thought weighs heavily on her mind: her family living in a disaster zone.

“My mind was running, like, I didn’t know what was happening on that side of the island,” said Ritchie.

Born and raised in the Bahamas, her mom, dad and little brother stayed home in Freeport when Hurricane Dorian hit.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen. So for those two days straight, where I couldn’t communicate with my family, it’s very scary. You don’t know what happened,” she said.

FGCU student Brianna Ritchie and her family (Family photos)
FGCU student Brianna Ritchie and her family (Family photos)

Although she didn’t know what was happening near her family, Ritchie saw what was happening on other parts of the islands: rising water and over 200 mile per hour wind gusts.

“Initially, I felt they were going to be safe, until I started to see the videos that were coming out. And then I became extremely worried,” she said.

As for their last phone call, Ritchie said she wished it was longer. “I kind of regretted not having a longer conversation that time because I wasn’t sure what was even happening at the moment.”

FGCU student Brianna Ritchie and her family (Family photos)
FGCU student Brianna Ritchie and her family (Family photos)

The moment she did know—overwhelming.

“To be able to hear from them and hear that they were okay, see that they were okay, was a relief; especially my little brother,” said Ritchie.

She realizes that she’s one of the lucky ones.

“I know there are some people who have lost close family members. They cannot even tell their friends the situation that is happening back home because it is so personal,” she said.

She hopes the people that love the Bahamas and that visited and know how beautiful it is will see the help they need.

Ritchie said her home in Freeport is one of few still standing—just one reason why she feels an overwhelming responsibility to share her story and make people aware of what’s happening.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Briana Harvath
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