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Hurricane Dorian: 'We are just hoping to hear they are safe'— Ottawa couples caught in the Bahamas

Two Ottawa doctors, Sharyn Laughlin and her husband Denis Dudley, were trapped in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
Two Ottawa doctors, Sharyn Laughlin and her husband Denis Dudley, were trapped in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
OTTAWA, Ont. —

The children of two Ottawa couples trapped on Abaco Island are desperately trying to contact them as Hurricane Dorian continues to hammer the Bahamas.

Ottawa physicians Dr. Sharyn Laughlin, a dermatologist and owner of Laserderm, and her husband Dr. Denis Dudley, a retired obstetrician and gynecologist, were at their home at Treasure Cay on the island when the category 5 hurricane hit over the weekend, said the couple’s daughter Kristin Dudley. With them was another Ottawa couple, Christine and Doug Wyatt.

“We spoke to my mom and they said they had to take refuge up in an attic bedroom, the rest of the house was destroyed,” said Laughlin and Dudley’s daughter Kristin Dudley. She said her parents told her the house’s main floor was “washed away.” The house was full of water, part of the roof was caved in and the windows were blown out, she said. The house was also surrounded by water.

Kristin Dudley said her parents were in good spirits when they spoke around 4 p.m. Sunday, although she worries they might not be able to reach supplies, including medication.

She does not know what has happened to them since then and has been unable to contact them.

“We are just hoping to hear that they are safe and sound, that they are OK, that they were rescued. Once we hear that, we can try to make a plan to get them out of there.”

The couples had been planning to return to Ottawa on Saturday. Kristin Dudley said as the hurricane approached, her family tried to arrange a charter flight for them to leave first thing on Saturday, but the airport closed sooner than they expected and the couples were trapped.

Kristin Dudley said her sister had contacted the Canadian government to put them on a list of Canadians caught in the hurricane. Family members of the Wyatt family did not comment on attempts to contact their parents.

Hurricane Dorian had weakened and was slowly tracking toward the U.S. southeastern coast on Tuesday. It spent much of the weekend suspended over the Bahamas with extremely high winds — one of the most dangerous storms to ever hit the area. The extent of the damage is not yet known, but it has been described as devastating with at least five people dead as of Tuesday.

Kristin Dudley parents told her the house that her father built on a peninsula to withstand hurricanes was pelted with 20 to 30 foot surges of water from both directions over the weekend.

“I saw a picture of the dry dock. Boats are gone, roofs are torn off, houses are destroyed. It is complete devastation. It has been wiped off the map.”

She said her family has been in touch with the U.S. Coast Guard, among other organizations. Some people had been rescued by boat, she said, and taken to shelters on the island. The Coast Guard had planned to fly in to Treasure Cay for a rescue but the winds were too high.

Laughlin is a well-known dermatologist in Ottawa who owns Laserderm. Dudley retired as director the high-risk pregnancy unit at the Civic hospital in 1991 and continued to work as executive director at Laserderm. The couple jointly developed a line of sunscreens after Dudley began investigating the safety of sunscreen use during pregnancy.

epayne@postmedia.com


Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019


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