Jensen Burrows and his jet-ski friends rescued about 120 people and pets Tuesday as Dorian finally departed the Bahamas. Now, he's appealing to Americans for aid.
Jensen Burrows posted a photo of himself with his jet ski on Instagram as Hurricane Dorian approached his home in Freeport, Bahamas. He hashtagged it #DorianReady.
"I pretty much was only joking about it, not knowing that it was actually something we would need," the Bethune-Cookman University graduate told The News-Journal late Thursday.
Then Dorian revved up to a Category 5 hurricane that sat on the Bahamas for 42 hours. Sustained winds of 160 to 185 mph tore apart homes and most everything else in its path. Storm surge and heavy rains left many buildings in 9 to 12 feet of water, he said.
The Bahamas government requested owners of boats and jet skis to help rescue those stranded by the storm.
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[READ MORE: Hurricane Dorian's victims face heartbreak and loss in Bahamas]
[READ MORE: After Dorian, heartbreak in the Bahamas as humanitarian crisis unfolds]
Burrows, 34, owns a computer repair and networking business. He found himself inside a hellstorm with his Yamaha WaveRunner, one of the vehicles that could deliver neighbors to safety. He couldn't help but help. Now he hopes his story will inspire others to help his fellow Bahamians.
First, he learned of a cabinet minister stranded in his home so Burrows said he made it a "top priority" to rescue him.
"In the midst of rescuing him and his family, the jet ski turned over twice because of the strong force winds we were incurring," Burrows said. "(The jet ski) kept on going but it was a challenge."
Soon, riding around the flood zones on Grand Bahama Island, it was apparent much more help was needed.
"When people heard the jet skis, they came out waving their hands, letting you know they needed help," he said.
The team included d'Sean Smith, owner of Spartan Construction, and his crew Jason Hanna, Jason Albury, Sham Davis, Ricky Martin and employees of Clearwater Sports.
In all, they rescued about 120 people and pets. Burrows estimates he helped 30 people himself.
The rescues were a bright spot on a tragedy whose scale has yet to be determined. As of Friday, the death toll stood at 30 but was expected to climb. One of those who perished was one of Burrows' former employees who had reached out to him for help.
"She was messaging me," Burrows said. "There was nothing much I could have done. The weather was too bad. I couldn't leave the house.
"I felt like if the weather conditions were just a little bit better, I could have saved her life," he said.
Burrows, who lived in Daytona Beach for five years while pursuing his bachelor's degree in computer information systems at Bethune-Cookman, grew up in the Bahamas but went to high school in Kentucky.
He said his home did not flood. But one of his jet-ski rescue friends, Smith, did have flood damage.
"He was still out there rescuing," Burrows said. "I want to salute him especially."
Jakettcha Scott of Orlando, a friend of Burrows from their Cookman days, is helping to publicize the "Jet Ski Heroes'" story. The outreach has landed them on MSNBC, as well.
"Jensen, he has a warm heart," Scott said. "He's always giving to others. ... He looks at everything he does, or everyone else he meets as a blessing."
Now Burrows is appealing for any assistance Americans can provide.
"I want to appeal to all Americans that a lot of persons lost their jobs. A lot lost everything — they have no food, no water, no clothes, no shoes," he said. "We are in a desperate state."
The American Red Cross is accepting donations by phone at 800-435-7669 or at redcross.org.