Med student reunited with family after Hurricane Maria

LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. (WPRI) – A medical student is back in Fall River after spending days unable to connect with her family from the storm-ravaged island of Dominica.

Elisha Griffin is now back with her parents, Jeffrey and Theresa, after the Category 5 Hurricane Maria tore through the campus where Elisha is a second year medical student. She said being on the island during the storm was the most terrifying experience of her life.

“The house felt like it was going to get sucked into the sky,” she explained. “The walls felt as if they were caving in. At any moment, the windows could just break right through.”

The storm hit at night, with winds reaching 160 miles per hour.

“I had no idea what I was going to see,” Elisha recalled. “I opened my curtains and I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. It looked like a chain saw had come through and chopped off all of the palm trees.”

The storm left a path of devastation in its wake, killing more than two dozen people. The hurricane knocked out power and cell phone service where Elisha was located, leaving her unable to tell her parents she was alright.

Eyewitness News spoke with Jeffrey Griffin last week, when it had been days since he had heard from his daughter. He said he wasn’t sleeping, calling his daughter every minute, hoping to hear her voice. Elisha said her stomach was in knots.

“Here I am knowing that I’m safe, and I’m ok, but on their end they have no clue,” Elisha said.

Finally, Elisha’s university was able to tell her family she was fine, and eventually, Elisha gave them a call, too.

Elisha and others were evacuated from the island, and on Tuesday, she and her family were reunited at T.F. Green Airport.

“There were sad tears last week, and today there were happy tears,” Jeffrey said after finally being reunited with his daughter.

“It was emotional,” Theresa said, tearing up thinking of when she reunited with her daughter just hours earlier. “Very, very emotional. As soon as we saw her and she saw us we started crying.”

Elisha said she is not sure when or if she will be able to return to Dominica, and said she will most likely be forced to continue her studies elsewhere while the island attempts to rebuild.

“I’m so happy to be home,” she said. “But it’s hard to appreciate being home so much when you know all of the devastation that you left behind.”